Gordon clocks out of FDS Southern after 26 years

As he stepped down as Franchise Consultant at FDS Southern, Gordon Patterson was awarded the prestigious title of Companion of the British Franchise Association.

As one chapter closed on his long career in franchising, another opened for Gordon Patterson, when he attended the British Franchise Association’s (bfa) Annual General Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in Birmingham, in December.

Gordon, who was Franchise Consultant at FDS Southern for 26 years until he retired at the end of 2011, attended the bfa’s Chairman’s Dinner following the association’s AGM.

“I was rather surprised to be asked to sit at a table between bfa President Sir Bernard Ingham and the guest speaker, who spoke on behalf of Dogs for the Disabled charity,” explains Gordon. “At the end of the meal, the Chairman, Michael Eyre, delivered a speech and then we had a presentation from the person representing the charity, who was given a £6,000 donation from the bfa.

“He then said that he had a special honour that he wanted to bestow on four people – to make them a Companion of the bfa and present them with a plaque. This was awarded in recognition of an outstanding personal contribution to the development of franchising in the UK.”


Those franchising four were Gordon; David Corbett the co-founder and chairman of Signs Express; Penny Hopkinson, founder and owner of Manual Writers International; and Melvin Lusty, who bought and then sold Rainbow International before investing in a number of other franchises, including Chemex, of which he is Chairman.

“It was a bolt from the blue to have this honour bestowed upon me,” says Gordon.

Being made a Companion wasn’t the only surprise for Gordon in December as he also received farewell gifts from his friends and colleagues at Franchise Development Services’ head office in Norwich.

FDS founders Roy and Judy Seaman presented Gordon with a Waterford Crystal clock, on behalf of all FDS Regional Directors and Consultants, inscribed with the message ‘In appreciation of your friendship, dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to franchising and FDS – from your friends’. Gordon was also delighted to receive a digital photo frame filled with pictures spanning his time at the company, from the head office team.

Gordon said: “It has been a very satisfying journey working with so many great people to help them achieve expansion of their businesses through franchising. In doing this with FDS, it has enabled me to not only provide the consultancy services, but to then work with my clients in the long-term, helping them to generate quality prospects through FDS media. This ongoing working relationship has enabled me to enjoy long-term associations with clients through five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years.”


Gordon first became aware of FDS when he bought a copy of The UK Franchise Directory from the company’s stand at The Franchise Exhibition at the Barbican in London.

Impressed with the directory, he decided to visit the FDS head office in Norwich in 1985 and meet the company’s founders Roy and Judy Seaman, who had established the business four years earlier.

“When I began to appreciate the nature of the FDS business and the services it provided, I became excited about the possibility of contributing to the expansion of franchising in the UK,” explains Gordon.

“I quickly saw FDS as a vehicle that could help me achieve that objective. I suggested to Roy that he franchise his business to me and that I could trade as FDS ‘Southern’. He responded with immediate enthusiasm. This quickly resulted in my acquiring the rights to FDS Southern in September 1985 and joining the training programme on October 1.”


Over 26 years at the helm of FDS Southern, Gordon made many friends.

“Life for me is essentially about relationships,” says Gordon. “My journey with FDS has, therefore, provided me with a golden opportunity to develop and enjoy many client relationships, whether as consultant, FDS media facilitator or both.

“To mention but a few, my relationship with Pam Bader of Molly Maid extends for a full 25 years, as does my association with the Safeclean brand. Other people that I have worked with in the long-term include Colin Carnachan of Ribbon Revival (who subsequently re-branded to Big Fish); Ben Walden of Wiltshire Farm Foods; Kevin Lewis the founder of Carewatch and Caremark; William Little the founder of Cleaning Doctor; Joe Lynam and Bill Owen as founders of Snack-in-the-Box; Godfrey Lancashire of London House, Freddie and Jan Mitman of Drain Doctor; Mike Holloway and Dave Dymond of Cookerburra; Andy Goodson of Northwood; Troy Tappenden of Dream Doors; Chris Allison of Auditel; Rob Allison of Expense Reduction Analysts; and Robert Legge of Ecocleen.”

Roy Seaman, CFE, Managing Director of FDS, who worked closely with Gordon promoting franchising, says: “When Gordon joined FDS in 1985, he remained 100 per cent committed to professional and ethical franchising and achieved outstanding results year after year. He became acknowledged as one of the country’s leading national and international Franchise Consultants and has received the highest accolades in his profession, including being named Franchisee of the Year at the 2003 International Franchise Association Convention in the USA.

“We take this opportunity to publicly thank Gordon and his team for what they have achieved over these years.”

While retired from FDS Southern, franchising won’t be far from his thoughts, as Gordon will continue to serve on the Expert Panel of the Qualified Franchise Professional qualification.

“I have been proud to serve as a bfa Affiliate member and very much look forward to a lifetime association as a Companion,” he adds. “To have worked in the structuring of new franchises, launched them and then stayed with clients in the development of their networks has been very satisfying. I feel confident that business format franchising, especially of a management type, will remain an important growth area within our economy.”

As Gary Rigby takes over the ownership of FDS Southern, Gordon wishes every success to him, clients and FDS Ltd in the future development of their businesses.

Written by Fraser McKay