The inaugural Encouraging Women into Franchising (EWIF) awards were held in London and the organisers say they were thrilled with the response and the calibre of entries.
The ceremony was the first of its kind and was attended by successful business women from across the country. The aim of the event was to recognise the growing contribution and success of women involved in one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK’s economy.
Nigel Toplis, the managing director of Recognition Express, sponsored one of the main categories in the competition. Mr Toplis handed over the award for Young Woman Franchisee of the Year to Amanda Perkins, who runs Musical Minis in Buckingham and South Northamptonshire.
Amanda, a former human resources advisor, decided to set up the business which offers music classes to pre-school youngsters after returning to work following maternity leave.
The mother of one launched the franchise in March of last year and the experience of running her own business is typical of many women in the same position.
Amanda said: “I originally enquired for a job as an assistant or teacher and discovered the local franchisee was trying to sell up due to personal reasons. I did lots of research on my area, the population and competition before committing. The whole process went very quickly and I was underway in a matter of months; that was in March 2010 and I haven’t looked back.”
She added: “I would rather do this than anything else. I have so much more motivation than I did working in HR. As well as being my own boss I get to work with children in a fun atmosphere.”
Recognition Express specialises in branding and marketing materials of all kinds ranging from corporate clothing to plaques, badges and pens. The firm is one of the leading franchise networks in the UK and has over 50 franchise owners.
Mr Toplis said: “Running your own franchise is one of the best ways of gaining independence and getting involved in growing and establishing a business.
“Because of the nature of running a franchise it is a career particularly suited to people who need their own independence and want to take control of their working lives. We are finding more and more women are getting involved in the sector. Many people are looking to return to work after a career break and running your own franchise can be the ideal solution.
“It is important that more women get involved in franchising and these awards were about publicising people’s efforts, showing what can be achieved and encouraging those thinking of making a career change to come forward. We were delighted to get involved in the event and to be given the chance to sponsor such an important category.”
The finalists and winners were announced at the Awards Ceremony held at the NatWest building in London and which was attended by over 150 people from the wide ranging world of franchising.
Clive Sawyer is chairman and founder of EWIF and the managing director of Business Options one of the UK’s leading Franchise Consultancies.
He said: “We were absolutely delighted at the response to these inaugural EWIF Awards both from the number and quality of entries received. It was especially pleasing that we had entries not just from the large very well know franchise brands but also from smaller less known franchises as well. The large turnout for the awards ceremony is a real indication of the level of support EWIF has from the whole franchise industry.”
The other winners included Lisa Tobias, who runs five Domino’s Pizza stores in Scotland, who was named Woman Franchisee of the Year.
Woman Franchisor of the Year was Sophie Brooks who operates a network of Clive's of over 80 rock schools called Clive’s Easylearn Pop Music Schools. Finally Woman Franchise Service Provider of the Year went to Sarah Cook of marketing brand Coconut Creatives.
EWIF was set up in 2008 by Clive Sawyer with the aim of inspiring, encouraging and supporting women thinking of or already involved in running a franchise. Members include franchisees and franchisors from every sector and from across the country.