Sarah Pittendrigh
Anna Addison

Member Article

TV 'Dragon' endorses NE events' franchise

Due to a rapid growth in demand for its services, an award-winning national franchise- based in Northumberland- is now looking to recruit the ideal person to represent the business in the London area after receiving a huge boost from one of theUK’s most prominent businessmen.

Multi award-winning Simply Bows and Chair Covers -specialists in hiring chair covers, table linen, sashes and other accessories for weddings, private parties and corporate events- has this week received another accolade after being chosen as one of Theo Paphitis’s top small businesses in his ‘Small Business Sunday’ challenge.

Each Sunday between 5pm and 7.30pm Theo, best known for appearing on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den series and being Chairman of Ryman Stationary, asks his quarter of a million followers on Twitter to send him details of their small businesses and why they deserve to be named as one of his top six of the week.

Using the hash-tag #SBS (Small Business Sunday) thousands of businesses contact Theo each week which he then reviews and chooses who he deems to be the best. Winners are then named via his Twitter account on Monday evening and added to his successful website, . This week (commencing 22.10.12,) Simply Bows and Chair Covers is one of the six chosen businesses.

Simply Bows and Chair Covers was established four years ago by North East-basedentrepreneur, Sarah Pittendrigh, with the franchise operation launching in 2010. In just under two years, the companyhas set up 11 franchisesin areas including Harrogate,Aberdeen, Dundee,Berkshireand around the North East.

Speaking about Theo Paphitis’s endorsement, Sarah said: “I was thrilled that Theo chose our company- what a fabulous seal of approval! I’ve had hundreds of messages from people all over the UK congratulating me and it really does provide a business boost- not only in the number of Twitter followers, but it has already also resulted in new enquiries.”

Until recently, Sarah- who herself runs theCountyDurhamfranchise- was managingLondonenquiries herself. However, due to a rapid growth in demand, this is no longer possible.

Simply Bows and Chair Covers’ management team has started conducting interviews with people interested in running the London franchise and looking after a number of high profile venues and 5* hotels.

Sarah Pittendrigh explained: “Since the start of the year, enquiries from London-based venues have dramatically increased and I can no longer cope with the level of interest myself. The London area is a ready-made market for the right franchisee as there is very little in the way of competition and we’ve started to meet with people who are interested.

“However, we’re yet to find the right person to represent the brand and deal with some of the most exclusive hotels and venues in theUK. We really need someone with the skills, experience and understanding of the competitiveLondonmarketplace.”

In the last 12 months, Simply Bows and Chair Covers has experienced a 50% increase in the number of new enquiries from potential franchisees- mainly from people leaving the corporate world seeking a better work-life balance, wanting to run their own business but with the support of an established brand.

Sarah Pittendrigh, who is now on target to open 30 Simply Bows and Chair Covers franchises by 2015, has won a series of awards since establishing her business in 2008*.

Next month (November), Sarah will represent the North East region in the finals of the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) Chamber Awards 2012 in the Most Promising New Business category thanks to her ongoing success and growth over a short period of time.

Earlier this year, Sarah was named the Newcomer of the Year in the North East Business Awards which recognise and celebrate outstanding achievements of companies across the whole of the North East of England.

Sarah beat off competition from hundreds of entrants for her bold decision to franchise her company and judges, including a director from Virgin Money, wereparticularly impressed with the simplicity of Simply Bows and Chair Covers’ proposition and the excellent financial strength being delivered through its business model.

* Other awards include: -

Franchise Marketing Awards- best website finalist, second only to McDonalds.

Winner of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s Business Growth Award 2011.


Editor’s Notes

Sarah Pittendrigh set up her company in 2008 after being made bankrupt when the national events company she worked for suffered the effects of the economic downturn. Sarah discovered a gap in the market for stylish, high-quality chair covers and linen whilst helping to organise her brothers wedding and came up with the idea for Simply Bows and Chair Covers.Before becoming a successful entrepreneur, Sarah Pittendrigh worked in marketing for brands such as Land Rover and Jaguar as well as being a national events organiser.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Anna Addison .

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