Businesswoman swims towards success

Aged just 32, Heather Ratcliffe, owner of Swimtime UK West Midlands, has been shortlisted in the Lifestyle category at the bfa HSBC British Franchise Awards, taking place at the Vox, Birmingham, on November 30.

Swimming was always a passion of Heather’s and, at the age of just 23, she bought a Swimtime franchise, which helps children and adults learn how to swim. Her business continued to go from strength to strength for six years with her proactively hands on in the business. However, after a change in circumstance, with the support of her staff and the head office team, she was still able to run a successful business, with the job supporting her lifestyle.

Heather Ratcliffe, franchisee, said: “I am shocked and thrilled to have recognition for the journey I have been on, where I could have lost everything, but because of how flexible the Swimtime model is, and the support provided throughput my darker days.

“I have been able to deal with the personal challenges and come back even stronger into my business. This recognition also provides a platform where I can share my personal experiences and challenges, so other people can benefit and learn for themselves, that choosing the right franchise is essential, and no matter what life throws at you, you can deal with it and come out stronger.”

Pip Wilkins QFP, CEO of the bfa, said: “Heather has been able to operate her Swimtime business with the help of the central support team and admin staff, despite being unable to get involved with the day-to-day due to personal circumstance for a prolonged period. This infrastructure makes operating the franchise ideal for her lifestyle.”

Andrew Brattesani, Head of Franchising at HSBC, added: “Heather’s business journey is really inspirational. To say she is on target to achieve £450,000 turnover, operating out of 10 venues, is testament to her hard work but also the model and support provided by Swimtime UK.”

Heather will go head-to-head against two other franchisees in November.

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