Press Release


CAROL_SMILLIE_WIFThe British Franchise Association (the bfa) is today launching a campaign urging more women to consider the benefits of franchising.

The bfa/NatWest Franchise Survey 2013 revealed that women were the sole or main operators of 30% of franchise outlets in the UK. At this time, that is nearly double the proportion of all SMEs in the UK (15.5% according to government figures).

The campaign kicks off with a Women in Franchising conference taking place at Stratford Manor in Warwickshire on 17 November.  A line up of top female speakers from franchising and the business world will provide inspiration through a series of workshops and real-time case studies.  Headlining the conference is television presenter turned entrepreneur Carol Smillie who has successfully created her specialist lingerie business Diary Doll which is now an internationally recognised brand.

The seminars will feature successful female franchisees and franchisors from award-winning brands such as Wilkins Chimney Sweep, Home Instead Senior Care, Molly Maid and TaxAssist Accountants, as well as experts in business growth, marketing, franchise development and coaching.

“For any women who are considering starting their own business, this is a not to be missed event,” said Pip Wilkins, Head of Operations at the bfa. “Many of our top franchisors and franchisees in the UK are female but we want to encourage even more women to consider franchising as a route to self-employment.  Franchising is the perfect way to go into business but with a support network there to help and assist you.”

Someone who is already realising the benefits of franchising is 2015 Female Franchisee of the year Carolyn Sharpe (34) who runs the Puddle Ducks franchise in Newcastle Upon Tyne.  Carolyn, who was named Female Franchisee of the Year at the recent bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards, was previously an accountant with a global professional services company, but was looking for a better work-life balance and to spend more time with her family. Puddle Ducks is a franchise which teaches babies and children up to the age of 10 to swim ensuring that they have fun whilst learning water-safety skills and a love of swimming for life. Her business started in 2010 and now Carolyn’s team of 20 teaches over 1,000 children every week to swim in over 20 swimming pools across the North East.  She has a turnover approaching half-a-million pounds.  Carolyn was also named Puddle Ducks Franchisee of the Year in 2014 and 2015.

Carolyn said: “I was particularly interested in franchising as it means that you have an established quality product and support when it comes to issues such as safety, insurance and technical aspects of running classes.  My experience with Puddle Ducks has been just brilliant.  It is hard work but you really do get out what you put in and I’m now reaping the rewards, both financially and personally.   Now I am able to take more time out of the business and have a great work-life balance.”

On winning the bfa award she said:  “I’m thrilled! I’m ambitious, I wanted a challenge and a fulfilment in my professional life that also gave me the flexibility I needed in my personal life and that’s exactly what I found in Puddle Ducks. I’m so proud of my business and my team.”

For further details of the conference and to book a place please visit

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