Franchisees of Carle Place-based online florist and gift company have formed the Independent Florist Franchisee Association in an effort to unite about 150 independent franchise owners throughout the United States.

The association said its formation is meant to improve franchiser-franchisee communications, increase franchisee awareness of company initiatives through publications and seminars, improve the brand and franchised business conditions, and promote the interests of independent business owners of the 1-800-Flowers system.

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"This was a long time coming and is a critical step to ensuring the success of the franchise," association president Judy Sicola, who has four locations in Houston, Texas, and is one of the brand's largest franchisees, said in a statement released last week. "We look forward to working with 1-800-Flowers to strengthen the relationship between the franchisees and the company, as well as helping to make this already great brand even better."

In response to the association's announcement, 1-800-Flowers spokeswoman Yanique Woodall said in a statement, " has worked in the past and will continue to work in the future to communicate frequently and openly with our franchisees and all of the professional local florists that make up BloomNet." BloomNet is its network of professional florists.

"Franchisee associations are becoming increasingly more the norm, especially in established brands," said Justin M. Klein, an attorney with Marks & Klein LLP, who represents several national franchisee associations, including the new association. "As systems grow, it is critical to have feedback from franchisees on best practices and what is going on in the stores day-to-day."