The bfa Annual Conference took place on 21 and 22 June, sponsored by RBS England and Wales Corporate Banking. Held at the Telford International Centre, it was attended by 170 business delegates keen to gather the latest updates, gain new knowledge and build new contacts.
The event stands side-by-side with the bfa HSBC Franchisor of the Year Awards, supported by Express Newspapers, which were held on the evening of 21 June.
The Conference featured the culmination of the One Vision strategic plan with the launch of Franchisee Membership, which brings to fruition a five-year development programme that will enable all stakeholders of ethical franchising in the UK to enjoy representation and speak with one authoritative, unified voice for the first time.
The necessary focus on such an important development for UK franchising resulted in the main theatre presentations focusing on bfa developments – a departure from previous and future conferences, which focus on key business and inspirational speakers. However, delegates were also given valuable information on franchising internationally, and were able to choose from a multitude of well-received seminars on an eclectic mix of topics. As ever, we extend our gratitude to all speakers across the two days, who excelled in their command of subjects affecting both experienced and new franchisors today including the use of social media, franchise agreements and disputes, and franchisee profiling, support and marketing.
Proceedings were tinged with sadness by Sir Bernard Ingham’s announcement that he is to step down after almost 20 years as President of the bfa, with the Conference being his last official engagement. Following a standing ovation he delivered a typically entertaining and rousing speech, full of his distinctive wit, humour and grace (it’s certainly difficult to imagine anyone else crowbarring Mikhail Gorbachev into their farewell address!), on the advances that have been made during his tenure and on the future of franchising, which he described as being “on the cusp of something big”. Sir Bernard will of course be greatly missed by us all, and we thank him for his magnificent contribution to franchising in general, as well as to the bfa.
The bfa’s Director General, Brian Smart, gave a moving speech in tribute, celebrating and reminiscing on the effect of Sir Bernard on his life over the best part of two decades, both personally and professionally, as well as his impact on the bfa and wider franchising community. We’ll be featuring a full story on Sir Bernard, including his own thoughts on the changes he’s overseen as bfa President, in the coming days.
The 2013 Conference will certainly miss him, but we’re sure it will be one to remember and one which celebrates the exceptional work, opportunities and stories that are found so often in franchising. Next year’s event will be the first to include Franchisee Members, so it promises to be a new and exciting experience for us all as we look to the future together. We hope to see you there!