UK's Top 10 franchisees battle it out for No. 1 prize in bfa Franchisee of the Year Awards 2006

The UK's best-performing franchisees are toasting their success after reaching the National Finals of this year's bfa Franchisee of the Year Awards, sponsored by HSBC and Express newspapers

The 10 National Finalists, who include two husband and wife teams, a 63 year old ex-military policewoman, a former paediatric nurse and a 27-year old who started out as a pizza delivery boy, will now gather in Birmingham to attend the glittering black-tie Awards Dinner, to be held on Thursday October 5 - the eve of the National Franchise Exhibition.

Here, the entrepreneurs will battle it out for the top title 'bfa/HSBC Franchisee of the Year 2006' and HSBC's £5,000 Gold Winner's cheque. The Silver and Bronze award-winning franchisees will also receive cheques from HSBC for £3,000 and £2,000 respectively.

The prestigious annual bfa Franchisee of the Year Awards - the highlight of National Franchise Week (2-9 October)- were launched in April as a celebration of the best-performing franchisees in a booming industry worth an annual £10 billion a year to the economy and which now employs over 360,000 people in the UK.

The judging panel, chaired by President of the bfa, Sir Bernard Ingham, was looking for franchisees who could show how they have achieved 'Success Through Support' - the theme for this year's Awards - by illustrating how their franchisor's support structure has been instrumental to their success.

Cathryn Hayes, Head of Franchising for HSBC Bank said : 'HSBC has been supporting the franchise industry for more than 20 years and recognises the valuable contribution franchisees make to the UK economy by creating local businesses, wealth and jobs.'

'All 10 Finalists to be honoured in October are inspiring examples of the franchise model working at its very best - and we congratulate them all on reaching the National Finals in these prestigious annual Awards.

'Their success stories are not only representative of hard work and commitment, but also testament to the vital support provided by a successful franchising business model'.

Director General of the bfa, Brian Smart, added: 'The franchise sector is home to some of the UK's most successful brands. These brands have been built on the fusion of a franchisor driven to build and support a network and franchisees who are committed to developing their own business.
'The awards recognise the very best franchisees and how their focus and drive, when supplemented by the support of a franchisor, grows sustainable, powerful businesses."

Cathryn Hayes, Head of Franchising for HSBC Bank
'HSBC has been supporting the franchise industry for more than 20 years and we congratulate our 10 Winners on reaching the National Finals of these prestigious annual Awards. Their success stories are not only representative of hard work and commitment, but also testament to the support provided by a successful franchising business model. HSBC also recognises the valuable contribution franchisees such as these make to the UK economy by creating local businesses, wealth and jobs.'