Membership History

Full Member
Joined 1997

Membership History

Full Member
Joined 1997

Company Overview

Successfully trading since 1979, previous winner of the coveted bfa Franchise of the Year Award, over 45 franchise territories in the UK and Europe and with multiple revenue streams Recognition Express is a stalwart of British franchising and is the most successful franchise network for the sector in the UK.

In a market worth an estimated £3billion plus per annum Recognition Express supplies branded business gifts and promotional products, personalised name badges, staff awards, posters and signs plus a full range of branded clothing to the widest cross section of companies and organisations in the UK. 

Hardworking, ambitious and driven franchisees with good ‘people skills’ are well suited to the ethos of the company and will find the rewards for owning your own business can be substantial.

Walk around your local area and see the opportunities everywhere for badges, branded clothing, promotional products, large format colour posters, corporate gifts and awards. The market is huge, and the good news is that most of the business is repeat business.

Franchise Overview

In business for yourself not by yourself

With 40 years in business the Recognition Express Head Office team have a wealth of business experience from sales and marketing to operations to finance to procurement.

Whilst this is your business and it’s you who makes the key decisions, we are always on hand with help and advice.

More importantly you have access to the widest range of support to help you manage, grow and develop the business.

You also benefit from the Recognition Express business systems, marketing programmes and collateral and sales tools.

As part of the largest franchise network for corporate merchandise and recognition products you will take advantage of our considerable purchasing power – plus we get best products from the best suppliers, keeping you ahead of the competition.

We are committed to supporting you in all key areas of the business:

  • Integrated business planning
  • Centralised marketing activity
  • Appointment generating programme
  • Ongoing training
  • Financial planning
  • Comprehensive marketing launch programme
  • Annual symposium
  • Monthly magazine
  • Dedicated extranet
  • Help and advice lines
  • Franchisee websites
  • Procurement

What our franchisees say

“Having been away from the workplace for 18 years, I was apprehensive about starting my own business. The support I have received from Recognition Express has been exceptional, so much so that at the end of my first year I achieved all my financial targets and have made the transition to business owner. The business is going extremely well and the economic climate has not affected my business at all. In fact, people are very aware of the need to promote the business and keep their name out there.”

Jan Chidley, Recognition Express Hull and East Riding

Marketing is the cornerstone of every successful B2B business

Recognition Express has extensive marketing experience in the business to business field.

We have developed several tried and tested marketing systems and programmes to help franchisees to achieve ‘friction free’ marketing and to get in front of customers – old and new.

All franchisees have access to an extensive and comprehensive collection and range of marketing collateral from sales letters, to email marketing to awareness cards to flyers/leaflets to give-aways to a branded and personalised catalogue.

Additionally, we engage professional agencies to coordinate direct marketing activity to prospective customers and generate appointments on your behalf.

Centrally designed, managed and implemented direct marketing programmes form the backbone of the Recognition Express marketing system. These are augmented by high quality literature, marketing tools and ongoing training designed to drive business growth, client contact and brand awareness.

Constantly on the lookout for exciting products and innovations, we invest both the time and money in on-going new product development programmes and in constant R&D, across the whole product range.

Your cost

There are two options available with Recognition Express.

Some franchisees like to have the ability to print/decorate products ‘on-site’ and as such we provide a comprehensive ‘equipment package’ as part of the offering.

Many other franchisees would much rather spend their hard-earned time speaking with and meeting new and existing customers, building relationships, generating new business and looking after existing orders.

In these cases, franchisees have asked us to remove the equipment package.

The Recognition Express franchise is available for £25,000 (+ vat) 

Should you wish to include the equipment then the total price is £35,000 (+ vat).

You will be able to reclaim the VAT in your first quarter.


We have excellent relationships with all the major banks and for a business with the history and performance record of Recognition Express we expect the banks to fund at 70% or the total required.

If you were looking to fund at £25,000 your personal commitment would be under £8,000 (plus vat) 

Initial franchise package includes:

  • Licence to trade and use the trademarks
  • Marketing Launch Programme
  • Extended training
  • Centralised Marketing programmes 
  • Appointment generating system
  • Own website
  • Extensive marketing collateral
  • 250 Recognition Express product catalogues
  • Accounting software
  • Ongoing training; business reviews and network meetings

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for ‘people’ people – good communicators who are comfortable building relationships at all levels.

Successful franchisees are well organised, ambitious, and keen to follow a proven business system.

We want the best 

Recognition Express will provide you with everything you need to ensure a successful start to your franchise business.

You need to bring ambition, drive, determination and a passion to own your own business and to succeed plus a positive attitude to working with the franchisor and building relationships with customers.

We will train you, support you, arm you and be by your side as you start and throughout your journey.


Training is comprehensive and extensive, covering all key business areas – marketing, sales, finance, business planning, production, products, pricing etc.

Daily Life of a franchisee

There is no typical day for a franchisee, but there are core activities that are central to creating an effective and efficient business. Good franchisees will be contacting existing customers or new prospects every day – asking about new business, ensuring a recent job was OK, seeking a first appointment; they will be attending formal networking groups at least once a month; speaking with suppliers; detailing customer quotes; and developing their key accounts.

Steve Sykes

Steve originally came to Recognition Express in 2002 when he set up the Crewe franchise.  He was so successful that he bought a second territory, the Wirral, five years later.

Steve has been married to Karen for 30 years and they have three children; Stuart (26), James (22) and Jennifer (21):

"I didn’t ever want to leave Recognition Express, because I like the business and I get on very well with the franchisor, but somebody made me an offer I couldn’t refuse! Being the franchisor, rather than the franchisee, was a very interesting and valuable experience, but I’m glad to be back where I belong."

Born and bred in Cheshire, Steve started his career in retail management, with a management training course at the Cooperative Wholesale Society. He then moved onto other high street retailers until realising that there was a big world out there and he wanted to be part of it. He was bored of being in the same place day after day.

From retail Steve moved to the signage sector, where he stayed for 10 years, working in a B2B environment providing equipment and sign products to the leisure and hotel sector.

“I did quite a bit of travelling, saw the world and worked very long hours, but somebody else was benefitting from my hard work, and I always knew I wanted to work for myself one day.”

Why franchising?
I came across Recognition Express when I visited the National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC. I felt an affinity with the nature of the business having been involved in the signage sector. I like the idea of actually selling products rather than information and I liked the quality and range of goods on offer. I could see that there was a huge market place.

From a practical viewpoint, I was looking for a business I could operate from home as I didn’t want to take on a huge overhead. Another unique selling point of Recognition Express is that it has manufacturing capability locally through its own in-house production facility, plus nationally and internationally.  This means we have the flexibility and capacity to copy with any size of order.

How did you find your way back to being a Recognition Express Franchise Owner?
I stayed in touch with the franchisor, Nigel Toplis, and he knew that I’d been made redundant. There was a resale opportunity, he approached me to see if I was interested, and I was.

This time around the challenge is different. It’s not a virgin territory and I’ve had to hit the ground running as it’s a busy franchise. You can’t hit ‘pause’ whilst you find your feet!

What are the characteristics of running a B2B franchise?
You need confidence to sit in front of people and promote your business. It’s not all about price and is more about building client relationships. Most people prefer to know who they are buying from and what they are buying. Reliability, meeting deadlines, is very important in this sector. You can’t afford to let people down. Accuracy and attention to detail is key because there are no grey areas. It’s either right or it’s wrong.

What are your future plans for the business?
My ideal would be to develop this into a family business. My eldest son, Stuart, is interested in getting involved on the sales side and developing the territory.
I’ve taken on a 30 year old, established business and my target is to cross-sell a wider range of products to existing customers as well as develop new business.

Stephen and Ciorsdan Price, Recognition Express West Scotland

How to triple turnover


Franchising is one of those rare sectors that continues to buck the national economic trends. Not only do franchised businesses have a much lower failure rate than the norm, with the latest ONS Business Demography report showing that less than 1% of franchised businesses close due to commercial failure, supported self-employment through franchising offers a viable for entrepreneurs to minimise risk when they start their business.  


Business security is another key attraction to those exploring the franchising option, alongside career flexibility and the pride of running your own business. But there is one other vitally important and seriously attractive proposition that franchising offers – business growth.


With over 60% of franchise units having an annual turnover of more than £250,000 according to the 20118 bfa and Natwest Franchise Landscape Report, those businesses running for five or more years that were questioned for the study, reported their company as being highly profitable. This gives franchise owners serious cause for optimism when it comes to turnover.


Stephen and Ciorsdan Price who own and run Recognition Express West Scotland are a shining example of how turnover growth can be achieved. 


Having bought the business in 2003 from Ciorsdan’s mother, Shonach McFarlane who had run Recognition Express West Scotland since 1981 front her front room, the couple have since seen year on year growth in excess of 30%. And despite the phenomenal growth of their business and the ever-shifting challenges of modern business, the techniques used by the couple after nearly 20 years in business are the same as they were at the start and they are surprisingly simple…


Ciorsdan and Stephen’s top tips to triple turnover:


  1. Speed is of the essence: Today’s businesses are time-poor, and many customers prefer to communicate exclusively online. Ciorsdan recommends always ensuring that you respond to email enquiries immediately as this is a great way of helping your business stand out. She commented: “We are often told that customers have been really surprised when we reply to emails so quickly, and because people don’t have the hours in the day to shop around, responding quickly to an email very often secures that customer and gives an excellent first impression.”
  2. Know your customers: Stephen and Ciorsdan recognise the difference between key customer types and how best to service them. Ciorsdan explains: “We know our customers and their order history and keeping an eye on this information enables you to spot trends that can help boost turnover. Our big public sector clients such as the NHS and prison service will often have new staff intakes at key times of the year so we will ensure that we send them details of our name badge or lanyard and workwear promotions when the time is right. Summer is a prime time for our private sector clients to be entertaining so this is our opportunity to promote our new corporate gift ranges. Knowledge is power!”
  3. Show your customers: One of the key techniques that Stephen employs is sending mock-ups to customers of how different personalised items would look with their branding. Stephen suggests: “Sending a customer a visual example of how a product would look with their own logo and company branding is a great way to secure new and repeat business. This has proved a very powerful technique for us and one which has certainly boosted turnover. For example, as winter closes in, we have sent umbrella visuals to some of our key customers and the orders are rolling in. It’s about adding value to your customers’ businesses by showing them what could work well.”
  4. Use head office support: Recognition Express offers a franchisee support package that is second to none and the Price’s advice is to make use of their expertise. Stephen said: “Support from head office has been invaluable to us and while we don’t need to pick up the phone to them nearly as much as we used to in the early days, we know they are always there if we need them.
  5. Hard work and dedication: While this may sound like the simplest of the Price’s top tips, in their view it is the one that can make the biggest difference to the success of your business. They advise: “Consistently delivering first class service with fast response levels and reliable quality has been the key to growing the turnover of Recognition Express West Scotland. It sounds easy but it requires hard work and motivation. We take pride in ensuring we stay on the ball – we’ve never rested on our laurels and waiting for the order to come to us, we get out there and chase down the business.”

Paul Mitchell

I’ve been a Recognition Express franchisee since 1981, which means I’ve seen how the business has developed and improved every year. The business today is very different from when I launched. There’s a huge emphasis on branding and marketing – a focus on making Recognition Express the first choice for our customers.

The market has also changed too due to the growing importance of branding to any business.  This means that there’s a lot more potential – any business can be considered a potential client.

I’d always wanted to work for myself and it turned out that Recognition Express provided a great way for me to achieve this. It was their ability to provide great training and support that first attracted me to the business and this has got better and better. The business is always looking forward and has always been focused on improving its systems.  The training is now very sophisticated and with all the added support, the franchise package is second to none.

One of the benefits of a Recognition Express franchise is that a lot of new business comes straight to us through referrals. It’s up to the individual franchisee to decide how to use the marketing tools provided and market their business in their territory – you can look to develop the business as it suits you.

The franchise revolves very much around marketing and sales, and as such experience in this would be a great help. However, it’s not strictly necessary at all. As long as you are personable and can relate to others in a professional environment, everything you need to know can be learned.

I find the work to be very satisfying and still enjoy it after all these years. Recognition Express makes sure you are fully prepared to go into business and, so long as you follow the tried and tested format, everything is in place for success.

Jan Chidley

Jan Chidley, 45, was born in New Zealand and first came to England at the age of 21 for a working holiday.

Jan did a multitude of jobs, including banking, working as a nanny and a credit controller, before meeting her husband Chris and starting a family. Jan and Chris have twins, Sam and Sophie who are at University, and Holly who is almost 16. Having been a full-time mum providing stability for the children whilst they travelled the world with Chris’s job, Jan decided in June 2008 that it was now her time and set up Recognition Express Hull and East Riding. Although Jan is the sole franchisee, husband Chris has been a big support along with the head office staff.

What attracted you to franchising?
I had a business back in New Zealand with my father, growing apples. We sold it and I decided that I wanted to do something in the UK now that my family are nearly all grown up.  I like the idea of doing something that is my own business but where I am supported.

My husband, Chris, is the CEO of a large nationwide franchise, Driver Hire, and I could see the benefits of being a part of a franchise. There is a list of support needed when starting a new business, and on a day to day basis it is good to know you can pick up the phone and there will be help at the end of the line.

What was it about Recognition Express that attracted you?
Nigel Toplis and the team are very supportive, there is a wide range of good quality products and hence a broad range of potential customers, and the business model is sound.

My husband Chris was aware of Recognition Express and had met Nigel on several occasions.  We both felt that Recognition Express was the right sort of business for me.

What advice would you give to others thinking of starting their own business?
It is hard work, with a lot of commitment required, but if you get it right it is extremely satisfying. It is all about meeting people on a regular basis, forming good relationships and being able to deliver the end product.

Having my own business gives me flexibility around my home life, however it is important to remain focused on the business and to continue to put in the time required to keep things on the up. It is not a hobby.

Would you recommend franchising to others?
I would recommend franchising to others. Whilst you have to do your homework before signing on the dotted line you should be buying into a proven business model. For busy women this can be an appealing option.


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