A BOLTON businesswomen’s networking group is celebrating its third anniversary by franchising the model.

Unique Ladies was started by Suzy Orr, who had a long career in the IT industry before helping husband Ronnie Orr run family business Windoworld in Chorley town centre.

She had become disillusioned with available networking organisations and decided to start her own. “I wanted a group which didn’t involve membership fees and which provided inspirational speakers and genuine networking opportunities,” she explained.

The formula immediately proved successful. She launched her first monthly group meeting at the Lancashire Manor Hotel in East Pimbo, near Wigan, before being asked by local businesses in Bolton to open one here.

She started the group at the Bolton Whites Hotel and it has thrived to become a busy, regular meeting for many local businesswomen. She launched the Manchester group originally at The Lowry two years ago and has gone on from strength to strength, adding groups in Preston and Liverpool.

“I realised, though, that I was spreading myself very thinly throughout the groups,” stated Mrs Orr. “I wanted to ensure the future and quality of Unique Ladies’ meetings so I opted for franchising.”

Two Bolton women, who both have businesses in the health and beauty industry, have taken over the Preston and Manchester groups. Melanie Tonge has already started running Preston meetings, held alternate months at the Guild Lounge at Preston North End FC and Society 1 in central Preston.

Sarah Hulme has taken over the Manchester group which meets in the Banyan Kitchen in the city centre. Her first meeting in charge is tomorrow when Greater Manchester champion bodybuilder Jo Peruzza will be the main speaker.

In the meantime, Suzy has been approached by other North West businesswomen to launch more groups using the franchise model.

“I’m delighted with the response to franchising,” she added. “It reflects how well the Unique Ladies’ brand has become established but it also shows what a great fit it is for home workers from all backgrounds and for all businesswomen now realising more and more that networking can work for them.”