Digital media agency Zine secures first international franchisee

Company which employs 30 at Barnard Castle HQ now working with Dubai-based businessman Abu Backer

Alan Bradley of Zine collecting a prize at the North East Business Awards

One of the UK’s fastest growing digital media agencies, Zine, has secured its first international franchisee.

The company, which employs 30 people at its headquarters in Barnard Castle and has already established a network of 52 UK franchisees, is working with Dubai-based businessman Abu Backer, who is securing new business in the United Arab Emirates.

Zine, which won the Durham & Wearside Internet and ICT award at the North East Business Awards 2014, provided comprehensive training to Backer, who will share the company’s digital media services with firms in the Middle East.

The entrepreneur, who has secured his first two clients within two days, said: “The Zine Franchisee training was a very well structured programme over three days, with active participation by Zine colleagues from different domains of expertise.

“The training helped me to understand the scope of services, production model and sales process.

“The management of Zine further motivated me and instilled confidence in me to leverage my strength in sales and interest in digital marketing to provide a smooth transition from the insurance industry.”

Zine UK specialises in brand development, web design, social media and corporate marketing.

The firm creates fully responsive websites and social media pages that work on all types of devices, its in-house team of designers, programmers, bloggers, copywriters and search engine optimisers driving customers to its clients’ businesses.

Zine not only builds and populates resources for its clients, but trains them on how to keep them up-to-date, giving businesses full control and helping them to save money.

Founded in 2008, the firm has grown rapidly and now works with all kinds of companies, from small local businesses to multi-national corporations, including Cisco and British Gas, as well as the UK Government.

Year-on-year, the company has doubled turnover, which currently sits at around £640,000.

All centralised design and development is delivered from the its County Durham headquarters to a 52-strong national network of Zine Agencies, operating under a mix of self-owned, franchised and white label licence arrangements.

To aid its expansion overseas, Zine took advantage of the Passport to Export scheme run by UKTI.

Zine managing director Alan Bradley said: “We are over-the-moon to have our first international franchise up and running.

“We’re always seeking entrepreneurs looking for a fantastic business opportunity - it simply takes the drive and enthusiasm to quickly make a very successful business from this.

“And we certainly have found those qualities in Abu Backer.”

He added that demand continued to grow for Zine’s comprehensive digital services and that Backer’s franchise was the first step in the firm’s plans to develop as a global brand.

“The franchisees feed work to our UK offices, which means investment and jobs in the UK,” Bradley said.

“The opportunities for franchisees with Zine have never been better – we are going from strength to strength and we offer all a business needs to succeed online.”

He added that international franchises could have huge implications for the firm, which aims to break the £1m turnover mark by next year.

“We’re now in discussion with someone in Mumbai and we’ve been speaking to parties in the US and Germany as well,” he said.

“It’s just like when we started this in the UK, but now we have a lot more experience.”

As it continues to grow, Zine has also launched a Digital Futures Skills Development campaign to help local people grow the skills needed for future high value job creation.

Endorsed by GlaxoSmithKline, the initiative is aimed at those interested in developing digital expertise, 

Zine has already created five digital apprenticeships across project management, business administration, marketing, sales and web development, and will be opening further opportunities in everything from web design to account management.

Bradley said: “As we continue to expand our operations and brand, we aim to keep the head office of our now-international business firmly based in Teesdale.

“We also have offices in Sunderland Software City and at Google Campus in London.

“Now is the time to jump on this digital wave and join us – the future is digital and that future is now.”

To register interest in Digital Futures, visit


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