Barry finds his place in the sun

Barry Ireland became one of Northwood's first franchise owners at 26 - and 10 years later he's running his business from a new home in Portugal.

Nine years ago, Barry Ireland had little idea he'd be running a successful business from a new home in Portugal. But the decision to become a franchise owner at 26 coupled with dedicated hard work and the support of his family has already helped him fulfill his dreams.

It was a chance encounter with The Franchise Magazine that led him to change career and become a business owner.

"I was looking at a friend's copy of the magazine," remembers Barry. "I found the franchise opportunity offered by Northwood interesting, and decided it was something I really wanted to do with my life." With the full support of his family and a solid grounding in the business from Northwood, the former salesman and policeman launched his Northampton-based lettings and estate agency in April 2001, and he's never looked back.

"Business was excellent from day one," he says. "We had healthy enquiries from the start and I beat my projected figures for the first year. The business has continued to do very well. It's taken a lot of hard work but I've built the business steadily and gradually - and successfully."

So successfully in fact, that earlier this year Barry moved to Portugal with his wife, from where he continues to oversee the running of his business.

"I'm too young to retire," he says, "so I think I'll be looking to expand the business in the future. What I really want to do is repay my wife for all the help and support she's given me over the years."

So what's Barry's secret to being a successful franchise owner at such an early age?

"You really need to have good backing and support behind you," he says. "And the harder you work, the greater the rewards. If I had my time again, I'd definitely do it again."