Top franchises announced

The Irish Franchise Awards 2006 were presented by Frank Ryan, Enterprise Ireland CEO, at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin on the 17th November. They were inaugurated by the Irish Franchise Association to recognise success and achievement in the franchise industry.

O'Briens Sandwich Bars scooped two awards: 'Retail Franchise of the Year 2006' and 'Franchise Person of the Year 2006'. Established in 1998, O'Briens has more than 270 stores in 13 countries and has rolled out a third generation store concept over the past eighteen months.

O'Briens is introducing a more ethical way of doing business with organic deli dishes and snacks, a coffee blend that includes Free trade beans, and Organic Fairtrade tea. O'Briens are the Premier Worldwide Sponsor of the Christina Noble Children's Foundation.

'Franchise Person of the Year 2006', was presented to Fiacra Nagle, who became CEO of O'Briens in January 2006. He is considered to have made a valuable contribution towards raising the profile of franchising in Ireland. He said: 'The Irish Franchise Industry is one of the enterprise sectors which continues to drive the development of our economy, contributing to employment, new and innovative products for consumers, and general wealth creation. I am delighted that O'Briens have contributed to the development of the industry in Ireland, and also, that I may have supported in some small way personally, the progress of the Irish franchise business.'

Cartridge World also received two awards: 'Service Franchise of the Year 2006' and 'Service Franchisee of the Year 2006'. Gerry and Noreen Smyth acquired the master licence for Ireland in 2004 and now have 41 stores around Ireland. Based in Galway, they have worked tirelessly to build the brand to national status, and Cartridge World is now the industry leader in print cartridge refill.

Gerry Smyth said: 'The Franchise of the Year award recognises not just our efforts but those of the great team that makes up Cartridge World Ireland, namely our franchisees and head office support staff who provide such a wonderful service to our customers across all sectors.'

'Service Franchisee of the Year 2006' was awarded to Keith Kenneally. He is one of the first Cartridge World franchisees to be trained in Ireland. Together with his partner Deborah Jacob they have built a successful multi-store franchise. Keith said: 'This award is not just for us but for the team working with us - we have a young family and love working in a business which makes a difference and where everyone can so easily make a positive impact on the future of the planet.'

'Retail Franchisee of the Year 2006' was awarded to Gareth and Nicola Jones, The Bagel Factory. This brother and sister team took over the Grafton Street branch of the Bagel Factory in March 2005. Nicola, originally coming from a Business and Marketing background, and Gareth, coming from a banking background, through sheer hard work, long hours and dedication soon doubled the previous turnover of the outlet. Within six months they opened their second franchise of the Bagel Factory in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre in December 2005. They now generate a turnover of approximately €1 Million Euro per annum between their two outlets.

Home Instead Senior Care was awarded 'Best Emerging Franchise 2006'. Home Instead provides services to the elderly to enable them to live in their own homes for longer than would otherwise be possible. Services include personal care, which might involve assistance with walking, dressing, meal preparation, medication reminders and home care such as light housekeeping, laundry as well as bringing them to medical appointments and shopping. People with early Dementia or Alzheimers can also be assisted and convalescent care is available for those who have recently been in hospital.

With its introduction to Ireland in 2005 Home Instead introduced the new business concept of non-medical in-home care services for seniors. The success of Home Instead Senior Care has created a new industry in which six new franchise offices now offer in-home non-medical care.

In his address John Green, Irish Franchise Association Chairman, said: 'We should not overlook the importance of the franchise sector. Numerous reports have highlighted the growing importance of the service sector in delivering future wealth and employment growth in Ireland. As an integral and vital component in the service sector, the Irish franchise industry has a valuable contribution to make towards the shaping of future industrial and business policy.'

The Awards were sponsored by Franchise Direct and the Irish Franchise Exhibition.