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Innovative duo make splash with award nod

Manchester-based business owners, Gary and Suzanne Horton, have been shortlisted as finalists in the Franchisee Innovation category at the British Franchise Association (bfa) HSBC Franchise awards.

Innovative duo make splash with award nod

The husband and wife duo set up their Puddle Ducks Greater Manchester franchise in 2011, and now run seven separate venues across the region. Puddle Ducks provides baby, toddler and primary age swimming classes from birth to 10 years old, as well as Aquanatal classes for mums-to-be.

As a former solicitor and lawyer, Gary and Suzanne entered the industry due a desire to have a better work-life balance, and the opportunity to spend more time with their young family. The career change fuelled an existing passion for swimming, and they feel a real reward when teaching such an important life skill in a fun and engaging way.

Gary and Suzanne even planned and built their own swimming pool, selling the family home and converting a former public house to make it happen. The new venue – named Aqua Nurture – has been open for a year, and the business has doubled its customer numbers to over 1000 in that time.

Running for nearly 30 years, the bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards 2017 celebrate franchisees across the nation who show dedication, commitment and a passion for both their brand and the franchising industry.

Gary and Suzanne showcased passion for their brand, and a clear understanding of Puddle Ducks’ target market. Through innovation and new ideas, the team proved franchisees can make a real difference to a franchisor brand.

"Were absolutely over the moon to be finalists in the Franchisee Innovation Award. Having our achievement recognised by the bfa means a lot to us given its standing in the industry."
Suzanne, from Puddle Ducks Manchester

Suzanne commented: “We’re absolutely over the moon to be finalists in the Franchisee Innovation Award.  Having sold our family home and moved our children to a different school in order to fulfil our dream it feels like a great time to take stock of what we’ve achieved and hopefully provide inspiration to other franchisees.  Having our achievement recognised by the bfa means a lot to us given its standing in the industry.”

Pip Wilkins, CEO at the bfa, said, “With so many inspirational stories from our members’ franchisees, it’s always a tough task to narrow it down to our 15 finalists. These outstanding business owners have so many different reasons for taking control of their business lives, and to hear the diversity in these stories is always so empowering. All of our finalists this year are an excellent example of how the franchisor’s collaborative approach, combined with the go-getting attitude of the franchisee, generates success at both individual and network levels.”

Andrew Brattesani, UK Head of Franchise at HSBC, added, “Judging is a hard task at the best of times, which only becomes harder every year when the difference in best in class is paper thin. Each franchisee highlights how focus and drive, when supplemented by the support of a franchisor, results in the growth of a sustainable and profitable business. HSBC is delighted to play a pivotal role in meeting the financial challenges of this dynamic and important market sector.”

For more information and to see the shortlist in full, visit: www.thebfa.org/news/bfa-news/our-2017-bfa-hsbc-franchisee-of-the-year-finalists-have-been-revealed

To find out more about becoming a member, visit: www.thebfa.org/about-bfa/joining-the-bfa.

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