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The finalists of the Franchisee of the Year Awards for 2009 have been announced by event organisers HSBC and the British Franchise Association (bfa). The awards ceremony, which is sponsored by HSBC Bank and Express Newspapers, wll take place at a black-tie dinner at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham on 1st October.

The shortlist of 10 will be hopeful of picking up a cheque for £5,000, courtesy of HSBC, for winning the Gold award, while £3,000 and £2,000 will be presented to the Silver and Bronze award winners respectively.

Shortlisted franchise owners are:

Julia Levene, Little Kickers, North and North West London, who provides weekly football classes for children under seven.

Mike Smith, McDonald's, Balham, Mitcham, Peckham and Sutton, who has opened four restaurants since May 2000.

Sandra Redmond, Molly Maid, South West London, who has held the Wimbledon franchise for over 14 years.

Tim Lester, NBC Bird and Pest Solutions, Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Southampton, who was one of NBC Bird and Pest Solution's first franchise owners.

Surjit and Balvinder Dhillon, O2, Birmingham, Corby, Trowbridge, Haze and Stratford-upon-Avon, who are operating five stores in the network.

Sarah Skelton, Rosemary Conley Diet & Fitness, Norwich, who has built the Norwich franchise into one of the most successful in the network.

Anne and David Hitch, Signs Express, Peterborough, who serve as a one-stop-shop for all forms of signs and graphics in the Peterborough area.

Mark Fordham, TaxAssist Accountants, St. Albans, who has developed one of the largest and most successful practices in the network.

Tamsin Brewis, Water Babies, Banbury, Oxon, who teaches over 1,000 babies per week.

Kieran Green and Beverley Watts, Wiltshire Farm Foods, Cannock and North Coventry, who are in their 8th year as franchise owners.

This year's finalists were chosed by the judging panel, chaired by bfa President Sir Bernard Ingham, under the criterion 'Success in Challenging Times'.

"These prestigious Awards celebrate the UK's best franchise owners," said bfa Director General Brian Smart. "This year it was harder than ever choosing 10 finalists - all great examples of how focus and drive, when supplemented by the support of a franchisor, results in a successful business despite today's economic downturn."

HSBC Head of Franchising Cathryn Hayes added: "The 2009 National Finalists are excellent examples of how the determination and hard work of the franchise owner, combined with the franchisor's supportive approach, generates success at both individual and network levels, even during a challenging economic climate."


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