The British Franchise Association (bfa) has revealed the most exceptional franchise businesses of the last 12 months at the bfa HSBC Franchisor of the Year Awards 2016. Water Babies, the UK’s leading baby and toddler swim school capped a phenomenal 12 months by taking home the top honour after being named bfa HSBC Franchisor of the Year 2016, the highest accolade in the sector.
The Devon-based baby and toddler swimming franchise was praised for its record of constant innovation and development. In the last year alone it launched, in parliament, the first-ever British standards for the safety of babies and toddlers during swimming lessons; built its own aquatic facility in China as part of impressive international expansion; created a new service for pre- and post-natal mothers; and became a published brand with a series of books planned.
Paul Thompson, co-founder of Water Babies, said: “What I am particularly proud of is the team effort. We have a sense of family and culture that is so strong, Water Babies is seen as a benchmark of what good and nice look like. That has been built by every franchisee, administrator, teacher and staff member over the last 14 years. It is so tangible, so special that others outside our family feel it and want to be part of it. That is why the room ‘erupted’ when we were announced as the winners with genuine sincerity. It felt like the collective franchising industry really, really wanted us to win! Everyone who has ever had anything to do with our story from the kitchen table to the moment of that announcement ran through my head in a collective nano-second. Water Babies has given me a lot of proud moments over the years – this is right up there!”
Also celebrating was Home Instead after picking up two awards, including Silver in the same category, for its franchising standards, ethics and franchisee recruitment methods. Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA) won Bronze for its highly collaborative business model and performance.
There was also recognition for McDonald’s, honoured for its innovation after the biggest revamping programme in its UK history, while O2 was praised for combining corporate and franchise techniques to create a strong culture of customer service. Busylizzy was named best new franchise for its modern, technology-led approach to mother and baby fitness classes and the flexibility and results it offers franchisees.
The full list of winners is:
bfa HSBC Franchisor of the Year
- Gold: Water Babies
- Silver: Home Instead
- Bronze: ERA
Emerging Franchisor of the Year: busylizzy
Award for Innovation: McDonald’s
Franchisee Recruitment Award: Home Instead
Award for Customer Focus: O2
Andy Brattesani, UK head of franchising at HSBC, said: “The awards are a celebration of exceptional businesses. Extraordinary achievements are required to triumph and our winners displayed them in abundance, highlighting the quality, dynamism and diversity that’s found in franchising today. Everyone in the sector should be proud of them.”
The bfa’s CEO, Pip Wilkins, added: “As judges, we demand substantial evidence of quality, a comprehensive understanding of franchising ethics and proof of consistent franchisee success. Our winners have distinguished themselves through their accomplishments and these awards pay testament to their sustained franchising excellence.”
The awards are the oldest and most prestigious in the £15bn franchise sector, having been established nearly 30 years ago.