Birmingham and the North are the target areas for the world's largest trading exchange, Bartercard Plc, as it looks to expand its UK operations by nearly 50% over the next 12 months. The company, which currently generates over £4 million per month in trade between member businesses, plans to open a further 10 franchised offices by the end of September 2006 creating up to 150 additional jobs.

Thriving cities such as Birmingham and Manchester have become Meccas for bartering according to Bartercard Plc, which opened its first franchise in Birmingham in March 2003. The system gives businesses of all types a huge amount of new business, benefiting the wider regional economy as a whole. Jobs that are created as a result of new franchises include administrative positions, trading consultants, sales representatives and account managers.

Bartercard operates a business exchange system that allows member businesses to buy and sell goods and services without using cash to pay for them. A completely self-contained economy that operates alongside the cash economy, Bartercard UK has its own currency, Trade Pounds (T£). Recognised legally by both the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise, the Trade pound holds the equivalent value to the pound sterling.

Bartercard UK currently has 16 franchise offices stretching across England from York to Cornwall. But it is the Midlands and the North where it sees the biggest opportunity for growth to meet these aims, and the company will target the thousands of small and medium sized businesses through 10 new franchise offices across England.

'The number of businesses that have embraced this system of modern-day bartering is staggering and is testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of the cities outside of London,' said Ian Jones, managing director of Bartercard UK.

'We are delighted to be in a position to open further franchises to keep up with the UK's demand for business trading. Expansion through franchising will enable us to quickly increase our presence across the midlands and north, and we are currently in the process of identifying suitable areas that will complement the reach of existing offices, bringing bartering - one of the world's oldest business concepts- to a whole new audience.'

Set up in UK in 1996 Bartercard UK is part of the Bartercard International Plc network - which operates in 18 countries worldwide, with more than 72,000 members and an annual turnover approaching US$2 billion. Currently with 4,000 members in the UK, the company has ambitious expansion plans and aims to increase its monthly trading volumes to £10 million by the end of 2005, as well as increase member recruitment by 50% per month.

Bartercard will be on stand G70 at The British Franchise Exhibition on 7th and 8th October at The National Exhibition Centre, Birmingam.

Case Studies

  1. Linh Vo, current owner of the Bartercard Birmingham North East, has enjoyed an extremely fast rate of growth since opening two years ago: 'In my first year of taking on the franchise, my turnover doubled each month for a whole 12 months. It didn't take long for local small and medium sized businesses to see the huge benefits that this type of trading can bring and, quite naturally, they want to be part of it.

With the support network that Bartercard offers, anyone with a head for business can grow as quickly as I have. Bartercard has allowed me to inject any saved cash into other business opportunities which has enabled me to go consistently from strength to strength.'

  1. Brian Whitford, current owner of Bartercard Central Counties North, recently bought his franchise following many successful years in sales and management.

'What initially attracted me to Bartercard was the concept; I see modern day bartering as a vehicle for the future,' explains Brian. 'Bartercard is the largest and most sophisticated organization of its kind in the world and therefore carries the most credibility. I believe the offer to the client is good and fair and the benefits are real - all of this is important in giving me the belief to invest and work hard to develop the business.'

'The main benefit since becoming a Bartercard franchisee has been the opportunity to run my own business again while still having help and advice from a large organization. I have found excellent levels of support both at head office and through fellow franchisees, which has helped me move effortlessly into the industry and start adding my own skills. After my first two months of owning the franchise, I was delighted to see trading levels improve along with ten new clients to add to the network. Challenges and success are what I love and I wouldn't trade Bartercard for anything.'