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Mike Dickerson and Jonathan Gibbs are the entrepreneurs behind Community Times which is a UK wide franchise offering people the opportunity to own and operate their own high quality, glossy A5 magazine and online business directory for local communities.

Their business plan originally anticipated they would sign up 10 franchisees within the first eight months - but they have signed up ten times the expected number.

Mike Dickerson stated that whilst the popularity of the Community Times franchise had taken many industry professionals by surprise, Community Times staff, systems and support had been fundamental to the ongoing successful growth of the company.

"We are getting more than 100 enquiries a day, resulting in the dispatch of up to 70 franchise prospectuses a day and are delighted with current growth," said Mike.

According to the Nat West Survey 2006 report commissioned by the British Franchise Association the average number of franchises sold in the first two years is nine.

The new company, based in County House, Beaufort Road, has created eight new jobs and was supported by the Welsh Assembly Government with an Assembly Investment Grant.

It now anticipates that by March 2007 it will have over 160 franchisees making Community Times the largest monthly magazine by circulation in the UK.

The business receives enquiries from all over the UK including rural, suburban and metropolitan communities, whilst existing franchisees range from return to work Mums, people who have given up full time jobs to run their own Community Times business and others who want to earn a few thousand pounds extra each month in their spare time.

"The majority of our franchisees have never worked in publishing or run their own business before", stated Mike Dickerson. "The systems and support given to each franchisee allows them to focus entirely on growing a successful business whilst we provide monthly templates, design, proofing, printing, distribution and even accountancy support.

Mike and Jonathan, who have a background in web based, business systems and new media, developed robust and comprehensive online systems which enabled them to scale up production successfully

The technology required significant resource and investment over a sustained period of development to ensure franchisees operate at the leading edge of technology

They believe that the huge demand they are experiencing reflects the growing enterprise culture and illustrates the number of people keen to run their own business and get involved with their own communities.

Andrew Davies, Minister for Enterprise innovation and Networks, said the venture illustrated the success of the Assembly Innovation Grant in supporting new businesses.

"This particular company has not only created new jobs locally and provided new business for a Welsh printing company but is also helping to foster a culture of enterprise and creating new start up businesses throughout the UK."

The magazine is designed for communities of up to 10,000 households and each franchisee is issued with a carefully formatted and structured monthly magazine template which includes all the design, articles, editorials, features, recipes, puzzles and competitions.

Franchisees source local advertising, return the template to Community Times who carry out on line proofing before arranging printing through a network of national printers. Each edition is proofed, printed and delivered to national distribution companies that deliver each edition to a minimum of 3000 households in each community.

Each edition is also published on the Internet within an online local directory website. Each franchisee also owns a bespoke e mail and SMS system that allows them to send emails and text messages on behalf of their advertisers to opted in member of the community.

Each monthly edition averages 40 pages and, although each monthly template arrives complete with articles, puzzles, recipes, editorials etc., franchisees have the opportunity to tailor the content to suit and reflect the interests of their specific community.


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