Poppies celebrates 40 years of sparkling success at its first in-person annual conference for three years

As the Poppies franchise network gathered for its first face-to-face franchise conference since the pandemic, there was an added element of celebration in the air. Held at the grand location of Lumley Castle near Durham on 17th November, it was the perfect venue to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the brand’s first franchisee, Poppies Durham. It was also a great opportunity for the brand to share the achievements of the past few years, as well as discuss future growth for the domestic cleaning franchise, including an exciting development for the business in 2024, moving forward as “Homely” to offer a wider range of services to a wider audience.

Attended by franchisees from across the UK, the conference was a time to reflect and mark the growth of the brand over the past four decades. Working from her home in Chester-le-Street, Sue Rorstad created Poppies, a cleaning business dedicated to doing things differently. Three years later, on 17th November 1983, Sue chose to franchise her business and recruited her first franchisee, Elizabeth Richardson, in Durham. In 2018, Sue then sold Poppies to franchisee-turned-franchisor Chris Wootton, and he has since built on the founder’s incredible legacy to grow the network to 25 strong.

This 40-year milestone of Poppies Durham commemorates not just years of successful operation but also a strong heritage of community engagement and customer loyalty that has stood the test of time. The franchise has not only thrived but also significantly contributed to the local economy, harnessing the enduring spirit of independent businesses in the region. After 34 years with Elizabeth at the helm, Nicola Marinan then took the reins in 2017, and the business has gone from strength to strength.

“Elizabeth created an incredible business in Poppies and handed over an extraordinary legacy. It was a daunting but inspiring task to continue that legacy, and 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,” added Nicola.

“What a fantastic conference, and it was especially great to be back in venue 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,” said Chris Wootton, Managing Director of Poppies. “Poppies Durham holds a really special place in our network. When we welcomed Elizabeth as our first franchisee way back in 1983, we knew the business was in safe hands, and it’s continued to grow stronger under Nicola’s brilliant leadership too. We are hugely honoured to have Elizabeth with us today, and for me personally, I was lucky enough to be trained by her at the beginning of my journey with Poppies.

“We’re really proud of the franchisees’ achievements and the impact they’ve had on their community, and we can’t wait to see where they are in another 40 years from now. The conference has been a great success, and we’re all so excited about the future of Poppies, particularly with the launch of our new bespoke Intranet which will enable our franchisees to streamline their day-to-day processes and manage their businesses even more effectively now. We are now all feeling recharged, motivated and full of positivity to take the brand to the next level of development. Without our fantastic network of franchisees, we wouldn’t be here today, so thank you to everyone who has contributed over the past 40 years,” added Chris.

For more information on what becoming a Poppies franchisee could look like for you, visit www.poppies-franchise.co.uk.