Franchising in the Midlands

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With the National Franchise Exhibition and Franchisee of the Year Awards fast approaching, October is set to be a busy month for the franchise industry.

Stephen McMurray, finalist in the Franchisee of the Year Awards 2010

This move is extremely important to us. With our state-of-the-art unit we have the added investment of being able to take on larger jobs resulting in our customers benefiting from quicker turnaround time on a project.

Taking place in Birmingham, West Midlands at the NEC on 1st and 2nd October, the National Franchise Exhibition brings together a diverse range of franchises for entrepreneurs and prospective business owners to learn the latest about the franchise industry and the business opportunities available. With a number of brand names exhibiting from the likes of McDonald’s, Subway and Papa Johns through to Cash Generator, Molly Maid, Chips Away and Venture Photography, Signs Express will also be on hand to answer franchise questions on stand G50.

With 80 centres nationwide and as the UK and Ireland’s largest sign company, Signs Express is one of the largest franchises which will be exhibiting at the show. Joining the franchise team will also be BFA (British Franchise Association) board member Ken Bevis. Ken who is franchisee at Signs Express (N & NE Lincs) is one of only two franchisees to join the BFA board and will be available at the exhibition to give a franchisee’s perspective on franchising.

Signs Express has also been announced as a finalist at the Franchisee of the Year Awards which will be awarded on the eve of the National Franchise Exhibition on the 30th September. Steve McMurray at Signs Express (Falkirk) was shortlisted for the prestigious award for his ability to turn what was once an unsuccessful and underperforming business into one of the largest franchises across the network.

Steve has excelled through his strong belief in customer service, great attention to detail and his exemplary management skills. Such qualities have in turn helped the centre achieve high levels of repeat business, customer referrals and an increase in turnover of 150% since taking over the franchise in 2005.

Signs Express has been in the franchising industry since 1992 and has witnessed a number of changes in the economy over that time. But it is this experience which has helped to prepare for fluctuations in the current financial market.

The Midlands area in particular is abundant with customer potential and money making opportunities with such prosperous locations as Leicester, Nottingham, Northampton, Birmingham, Gloucester and Lincoln. Centrally-based with easy motorway access, the Midlands is well known as a hive of activity through universities, the local economy and for its large well known brand names such as Cadbury UK, Rolls-Royce, Denso Manufacturing, Dairy Crest, Alton Towers and Royal Doulton.

The Midlands, the same as the whole country, has felt the impact of the recession over the past few years, however, the same as most regions the East Midlands and West Midlands in particular are both gradually witnessing a steady increase in employment in a range of sectors as well as a boost in both consumer and business spend. For those now looking to once again start in business, franchising provides a much safer business opportunity.

Franchising has been showing a positive outlook and is proving a more sustainable option than starting in business alone. Despite the economic uncertainty of last year, franchising still managed to contribute £11.8 billion to the country’s GDP which also showed an increase of £400 million from the previous year. The statistics which were reported in the annual NatWest BFA franchise survey, also highlighted potential for future growth with franchisors, on average, planning for an additional 8.8 franchisee outlets.

Signs Express’ turnover is still up year on year and is still seeing its most established franchisees’ hit the £1 million mark along with a number of centres recently reaching the milestone of £5 million invoiced sales.

As a way to capitalise further, many Signs Express franchisees opt to buy their own premises as part of long-term financial planning and as an ideal revenue stream for when the franchisee looks to retire. A number of Signs Express franchises have also moved to larger premises to accommodate for increased workloads. Signs Express (Northampton) is the latest to grow the business, moving to a larger production unit of the Brackmills Industrial Estate. The Northampton signage specialist will share the estate with big brand names such as Tesco, Debenhams, Barclaycard and George (Asda’s clothing distribution unit).

Mark Meadowcroft, centre owner at Signs Express (Northampton) commented on the move: “This move is extremely important to us. With our state-of-the-art unit we have the added investment of being able to take on larger jobs resulting in our customers benefiting from quicker turnaround time on a project.”

For more information on franchising with Signs Express please visit http://www.signsexpress.co.uk/franchise or call 0800 731 2255.

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Sarah Critoph