When she made an off-the-cuff comment to a close family friend at a craft event in 2017, local mum Nicola Marinan had no idea that she would end up running a professional cleaning business. After 34 years with Elizabeth Richardson at the helm, Nicola then took the reins, and Poppies Durham is now celebrating the incredible milestone of 40 years in business.

Since 1983, Poppies Durham has not only thrived but also significantly contributed to the local economy, harnessing the enduring spirit of independent businesses in the region. This anniversary marks not just years of successful operation but also a legacy of community engagement and customer loyalty that has stood the test of time.

“Stepping into Elizabeth’s shoes was a significant challenge; they were metaphorically huge shoes to fill!” said Nicola. “Initially, my comment about buying Poppies was a light-hearted remark, something I never thought would actually materialise. 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!


“Over the past six years, I’ve dedicated myself to not only sustaining but also building on the incredible business Poppies Durham has become. Despite facing the extraordinary challenge of a global pandemic, our business has continued to thrive and expand. Together, we have navigated Poppies through numerous challenges, and now, the responsibility and honour of carrying that torch forward lies with me.”

Nicola’s goal is to return to pre-pandemic levels of 1,600 cleaning hours every period. While one-off cleans for new customers alone could keep the business occupied for months, the priority remains clear: ensuring her 24 employees are able to strike a balance between work and play, along with maintaining exceptional service for their existing clientele. This cautious growth strategy is a reflection of their ethos, focusing not on over-committing or over-promising, but rather on delivering consistent, quality service.

The secret to Poppies Durham‘s 40 years of success lies in hard work, determination, and the willingness to seek help when needed. Prioritising existing customers over constantly looking for new work has been key. The loyalty and support from their local customer base have been indispensable to their journey, emphasising the value of community ties in their enduring achievement.


“I am immensely proud of our achievements here at Poppies Durham,” added Nicola. “I’m so grateful to Elizabeth for her belief in my ability to take the mantle, and I’m really proud that Poppies continues to be a success. Our commitment to excellence ensures that we’ll continue to grow stronger over the next 40 years – our next target is to reach 2,000 cleaning hours. It’s crucial to uphold and enhance the outstanding reputation Poppies Durham has established, and to ensure we remain at the heart of our community here in the Northeast.”

Poppies serves the people of Durham, Washington, Houghton-le-Spring and the wider surrounding areas. For more information, or to find out about the services Poppies can provide, visit www.poppies.co.uk/durham or call Nicola and the team on 0191 384 0701.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categorised in:

This post was written by michaelaliu