Conference celebrates Poppies’ milestone

It was a moment to cherish when members of the Poppies’ network came together in Durham recently for their annual conference.

Conference celebrates Poppies’ milestone

Cleaning franchise gather in Durham for 40th anniversary.

It was a moment to cherish when members of the Poppies’ network came together in Durham recently for their annual conference. Not only was this the first face-to-face gathering since the pandemic, but it was also exactly 40 years since the business became a franchise on November 17th, 1983.

And there was no better location to hold such an occasion but in Durham, which was the territory for the very first Poppies’ franchisee. This anniversary conference was held at Lumley Castle, in the Durham market town of Chester-le-Street.

Not only did network members toast the achievements of the past four decades but they also discussed the future of the domestic cleaning franchise.

Attended by franchisees from across the UK, the members were given a brief history lesson about the company which had been the brainchild of Sue Rorstad. Sue ran the business from her Chester-le-Street home, before turning it into a franchise company three years later.

Her first franchisee, who was recruited in November 1983, was Elizabeth Richardson of Durham. In 2018, Sue sold Poppies to franchisee-turned-franchisor Chris Wootton who has continued to build on the founder’s legacy.

Poppies has always described itself as a ‘cleaning business dedicated to doing things differently.’ They have focussed on developing a strong heritage of community engagement and customer loyalty, which has certainly stood the test of time.

The franchise has contributed to local economies around the country, and the company’s first business partner has played a leading role in this story of success. But after 34 years running the Durham territory, Elizabeth Richardson handed over the keys to Nicola Marinan in 2017.

And Nicola paid tribute to Elizabeth, by saying: “She built an incredible business and it was a daunting, but inspiring, task to try and continue that legacy. My goal has always been to make Elizabeth proud, which I know she is.

“Together we have navigated Poppies through numerous challenges, and our commitment to excellence ensures that we’ll continue to grow stronger over the next 40 years.”

Managing director of Poppies, Chris Wootton, told attendees: “What a fantastic conference. It is especially great to be back with so many of our franchise family. Nothing beats the atmosphere of a Poppies’ conference where the sense of pride and collaboration is so evident.

Poppies Durham holds a really special place in our network. When we welcomed Elizabeth as our first franchisee in 1983, we knew the business was in safe hands.

“And it has continued to grow under Nicola’s leadership too. We are hugely honoured to have Elizabeth with us at this conference and, for me personally, I was lucky enough to be trained by her at the beginning of my Poppies’ journey.

“We’re really proud of the franchisees’ achievements and the impact they’ve had on their communities. The conference has been a great success, and we’re all excited about the future.

“We are particularly delighted with the launch of our new Intranet system. This will enable franchisees to streamline their day-to-day processes and manage their businesses more effectively than ever.

“We are all feeling recharged, motivated and full of positivity. Without our fantastic network of franchisees, we wouldn’t be here today. So, it’s a thank-you to everyone who has contributed over the past 40 years.”

With headquarters in Ormskirk, Lancashire, the current Poppies’ network is as follows: Bay & Lakes; Chester; Chesterfield & Mansfield; Cumbria; Doncaster; Durham; Exeter; Hackney & Tower Hamlets; Hounslow; Leeds NW; Lewisham, Greenwich & Bexley; Liverpool; Mercia; Newcastle; Nottingham; East Peak District; Sheffield; South Tyne; Southport & Formby; Stockport; Warwick; West Lancashire; Wilmslow, Alderley Edge & Macclesfield; Wirral; York.

Andy Swales
Andy Swales