British Franchise Association (BFA) launches national search for UK's top Franchisors

A nationwide search is launched this week to find Britain's top franchisors in an industry now employing more than 327,000 and worth an annual £10 billion to the economy.

The British Franchise Association (bfa) Franchisor of the Year Awards, which also recognise outstanding brand building and enterprise, are designed to showcase the UK's best-performing franchisors. They are organised by the bfa and backed by Express Newspapers and HSBC Bank.

This year the theme for the top title - bfa Franchisor of the Year - is Customer Focus - with franchisors having to demonstrate to the judging panel how they are tracking consumer needs and responding with new systems, products and services to meet demand.

Last year, Driver Hire - who supply commercial drivers - won the title ' bfa Franchisor of The Year 2006' - with SUMO Services scooping the Express Newspapers Brand Builder of the Year Award and VIP Bin Cleaning winning the HSBC Award For Enterprise.

Director General of the bfa, Brian Smart, said: "Franchising has direct benefits to hundreds of thousands of customers each year. The systems developed by a franchisor as best practice, coupled to the energy of an attentive franchisee provide real 'Customer Focus' The Franchisor of the Year awards honour the very best in franchising and highlight those who are proud to provide a customer centric approach as franchised businesses'.

Entries are also being invited for the Express Newspapers Brand Builder of the Year category, which seeks to show how franchisors have both supported and added value to their brands during the last 12 months

Express Newspapers' Business Advertising Manager, Yvette Taylor, said : 'Building a strong and successful brand is something that we at Express Newspapers fully understand, and we look forward to seeing this year's winner reap the rewards of their success, and to sharing their story with our readers'.

The final category is the HSBC Award for Enterprise, which recognises how franchisors have used creative business strategies to overcome challenges or found success where, perhaps, others have failed.

HSBC's Head of Franchising, Cathryn Hayes, said: 'Franchising is a proven and successful way for businesses to grow and HSBC is committed to encouraging enterprise and development.

'The HSBC Enterprise Award showcases some of the most innovative thinking in the industry which we hope will also be an inspiration to others.'

The winners of the bfa Franchisor of the Year Awards, which this year will see the introduction of Gold, Silver and Bronze within the bfa category, will be announced at a glittering gala luncheon to be held at London's Savoy Hotel on Thursday 24th May 2007.

Entry forms are available from the bfa Offices, Thames View, Newtown Road, Henley on Thames, Oxon RG9 1HG. Alternatively, copies can be downloaded from the Members' only section of the bfa website; .

Closing date for all entries is Friday 2nd March 2007.