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Mark Hodgson and Brian Campbell, Bairstow Eves.

Mark Hodgson and Brian Campbell, the franchisees behind a number of Bairstow Eves branches in northwest England, came into estate agency from backgrounds in management consultancy and banking, respectively.

Already an experienced businessman and impressed by Bairstow Eves' franchising model, Mark opened the Harrogate branch in 2004 and asked Brian - a former colleague - to join him six months later. Since then the pair have opened two additional branches in Blackpool and Lytham St Annes, and already have plans for two more in Hull and Beverley.

'For me the biggest incentive for becoming a franchisee with Bairstow Eve Franchising is that we have the freedom to operate as an independently owned estate agency, but at the same time we have the back-up and training support from the group,' Mark explains. 'Bairstow Eves Franchising was absolutely fantastic, right from the start. I'd had previous experiences with other franchises where I was basically just left to my own devices. But Bairstow Eves offered practical hands-on support. Basically they made starting the business very simple.'

Mark has set a goal of opening an additional nine Bairstow Eves branches, but has not decided on a definite timeline, preferring instead to grow 'organically'. Already, he and Brian have more than 25 staff spread across their various branches, with the numbers expected to rise steadily as the new branches begin trading. 'We are part of the UK's biggest estate agency group,' he says. 'Who else can offer their customers that?'