Sarah Pittendrigh
Anna Addison

Member Article

NE entrepreneur makes prestigious awards’ shortlist

A successful Northumberland entrepreneur has been short-listed for an important national business award.

Sarah Pittendrigh runs Simply Bows and Chair Covers in Kiln Pitt Hill, specialising in quality chair covers, linen and accessories for weddings, balls and corporate events, and will represent the North East region in the finals of the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) Chamber Awards 2012.

Sarah, who has gone from being bankrupt to running an award-winning franchise business in just two years, is a finalist in the Most Promising New Business category thanks to her ongoing success and growth over a short period of time.

Sarah established Simply Bows and Chair Covers in 2008 after being made bankrupt when the national events company she worked for suffered the effects of the economic downturn.

Whilst helping to organise her brother’s wedding, Sarah found a gap in the market for stylish, high-quality chair covers and linen and launched her business in 2008 across the North East area.

Since then, Simply Bows and Chair Covers has grown rapidly and Sarah opted to launch the franchise operation in 2010 as customer demand for her unique service grew quickly all over the UK.

Just two years on, the business has 11 franchises from Aberdeen down to Berkshire and Sarah is on target to open 30 franchises by 2015. Plans are also being made to take Simply Bows and Chair Covers into Europe and beyond after receiving enquiries from countries such as France, Spain and the UAE.

The Chamber Awards recognise and celebrate business excellence across the UK. Sarah has been invited to the awards ceremony, hosted by BBC business journalist and presenter, Declan Curry, at the Guildhall in London on November 29th where she will find out if she is an overall winner.

Speaking about the BCC Awards, Sarah said: “I was overwhelmed when I was told I’d made the final as there’s always such fierce competition. I’m very honoured to be championing North East business as there are some outstanding companies in our region and I can’t believe that I’ve been singled out.”

North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive, James Ramsbotham, said: “Sarah has shown an immense amount of determination and rightly deserves a huge amount of praise for what she has achieved. The level of her success is testament to her vision and drive and from that initial idea she has now gone on to support employment for dozens of people both in the North East and across the UK.

“I would like to congratulate her on her outstanding achievement and wish her all the very best for the awards final in London.”

Earlier this year, Sarah was named the Newcomer of the Year in the North East Business Awards (April), which recognise and celebrate outstanding achievements of companies across the whole of the North East of England.

Sarah beat off competition from hundreds of entrants for her bold decision to franchise her company and judges, including a director from Virgin Money, were particularly impressed with the simplicity of Simply Bows and Chair Covers’ proposition and the excellent financial strength being delivered through this model.

In addition, the company has won other awards including the Franchise Marketing Awards- best website finalist, second only to McDonalds; Winner of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum ‘If We Can You Can Challenge’ in 2010; Winner of Business Growth Award – Entrepreneurs Forum 2011.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Anna Addison .

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