The franchise industry is expected to continue its record growth throughout 2017. According to the Franchise Business Economic Outlook for 2017 released this week by the International Franchise Association, the industry is projected to grow by $35 billion to top out at $710 billion by the year-end. Speaking of the IFA, we want to congratulate IFA President and CEO Robert Cresanti on being named one of the 50 Most Influential People in Foodservice by the Nation’s Restaurant News in their Power List for 2017. Starbucks held its Q1 earnings release yesterday, reporting it missed the global revenue goal by $120 million but reached the earnings per share expectation. Same store sales in Q1 Americas Division stores were plus 3%, with minus 2% traffic and the ticket up 5%. Some of the traffic impact was how the transactions were affected by the new Loyalty Card. Clearly, they had a weaker December and January than expected, which pulled down their annual growth to 8 to 10% versus the plus 10% goal they noted in December. Americas store EBITDA margins also fell slightly to 24.6%, due to labor cost pressure. Earlier this week, the company announced it was expanding its parental leave employee benefit for birth mothers to 100% pay for 6 weeks (up from the current 67%) and 12 weeks unpaid leave for store employee fathers, foster and adoptive parents.