A company which helps thousands of young children to get up and active has franchised the business as part of its plans for growth.
Little Athletes was started by qualified sports coach Daniel Hatton in 2015 to provide physical activity sessions for Early Years children across Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and South Cheshire.
Today the company’s six-strong team deliver weekly sessions for pre-schools, day nurseries and playgroups and have a timetable of up to 40 community classes a week, including soccer schools, toddler football sessions and a new ‘fit for £1’ scheme, at various leisure and sports centres across the county.
Now the company has a number of franchise opportunities across the UK for anyone looking to run their own business.
Dan said: “It’s been crazy how much we’ve grown since the beginning. I started the business in 2015, with six children in the middle of a field in Sandyford.
“Now we’re doing 40 plus community classes a week, we’ve got six soccer schools, baby groups, toddler football and we’ve always got new children wanting to come to our classes.”
The 28-year-old added: “During lockdown, we did wonder what was going to happen, and if families would come back to us when the restrictions were lifted but even during the pandemic the demand has been there, and with so much spare time on our hands it was the perfect time to start the franchising process.
“The business is growing so quickly, particularly in the last two years, but we need to make sure it grows in the right way.”
Since May 2020, Little Athletes has been working with a team of specialist advisors to get everything in place for future growth and potential franchisees.
And the company has already secured its first franchisee – in Macclesfield.
Now it hopes to secure up to five more Little Athletes franchises in the next 12 to 18 months.
Dan said: “So many people have asked me about franchising in the past. A lot of people think this business is a franchise, which is great because it means we’ve built a really strong brand.
“We were ready to start marketing our franchise opportunities in October and we had a number of leads – even from as far away as Brazil – and serious enquiries from Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“Word was getting around, but then another lockdown happened and those leads eventually fizzled away as no-one was certain what was going to happen.
“Now we’re trying to get the business back to where it was before the pandemic and we are ready to start talking to any potential franchisees.”
BusinessLive is your home for business news from around the country – and you can stay in touch with all the latest news through our email alerts.
You can sign up to receive daily morning news bulletins from every region we cover and to weekly email bulletins covering key economic sectors from manufacturing to technology and enterprise. And we’ll send out breaking news alerts for any stories we think you can’t miss.
Visit our email preference centre to sign up to all the latest news from BusinessLive.
He added: “Franchisees will get everything they need. We will supply the kit, a sign-written vehicle, the company branding, the lessons plans, everything. It’s a business in a box.
“We are focusing on the UK at the moment, but it is certainly our plan to roll this out internationally.”
Little Athletes Staffs – which is currently still being run by Dan – will eventually become the Stoke-on-Trent franchise.
Eventually, Little Athletes’ head office will relocate to new premises in the city so it can hold training days, recruitment events and meet its new franchisees.
Dan said: “The plan has always been to franchise the business, but to be honest I never thought it was going to happen.
“I’ve looked at other franchise businesses in the past and seen how well they’ve done, so I have the belief that this is going to work.
“I want to show people that someone like me, leaving school with no GCSE’s, can still run a successful business if you are willing put in the effort and work really hard.”