From working for the NHS with no experience in franchising to becoming a budding entrepreneur, Nicola Thompson became the franchisee of Smallprint Durham/Northumberland two years ago and has since seen the business thrive. Because of this, she has been shortlisted in the Transformation category at the bfa HSBC British Franchise Awards, taking place at the Vox, Birmingham, on November 30.

She took over an existing territory of the keepsake jewellery franchise, and since then has made an airtight business plan that has seen her reap the rewards.

Before Smallprint, Nicola was a Staff Nurse in the University Hospital of North Durham. Having this background has helped immensely to cater for the range of emotions and situations the Smallprint customers have endured. Indeed, while maintaining her Smallprint business Nicola returned to the NHS frontline to support colleagues during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nicola said: “I’m just so incredibly proud to have been recognised like this. Three years ago, I wouldn’t even have thought about running my own business. Now I’m an entrepreneur!

“I love what I do and the joy it gives to my customers. Together with the support of my family, a great Franchisor and my fellow franchsiees, this is what drives me forward.”

Pip Wilkins QFP, CEO of the bfa, said:

“The existing business before Nicola took over was performing well, which makes the transformation all the more impressive. Within one year, she increased sales by 48 per cent and social media followers by 217 percent.”

Andrew Brattesani, Head of Franchising at HSBC, added:

“Focusing on customer engagement and attending local fairs and events really helped propel Nicola’s business into the limelight, making sure that the customer base is strong throughout the year, rather than having seasonal peaks and troughs.”

Nicola will go head-to-head against three other franchisees in November.