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Flying high on a post-lockdown resurgence

Flying high on a post-lockdown resurgence

Little Kickers has gone from strength to strength, even during challenging times

Established in London in 2002, Little Kickers was a ‘first mover’ in the international childrens’ activity market. The multiple award-winning brand has enjoyed countless highs over the intervening years, whilst weathering some challenging economic times, including the financial crisis of 2008/9 and the global pandemic.

Yet, despite a debilitating global lockdown, the business has managed to hold its nerve, show its inner resilience, and further underline the importance of fostering a deep-seated appreciation for healthier active lifestyles among inquisitive pre-schoolers – at a time when child obesity and poor diets are on the rise and participation in outdoor sports activities declines.

There’s plenty of research to suggest that children who are given a fun introduction to sport early in their lives are more likely to continue to participate in sport as they get older.

“Fortunately, our business model is such that our franchisees can just temporarily ‘switch off’ their classes from one day to the next with minimal effort, and customers remain registered on our systems so can automatically return to classes as and when they’re able to reopen,” comments Alan Kennedy, Little Kickers CEO.

“We signed up 12 new franchisees during 2020, many of whom were only able to start running classes at the end of March when the UK finally reopened for business – it’s testament to the resilience and strength of the Little Kickers brand and our team that people continued to take on franchises during such arduous times.”

Flourishing despite lockdowns

Liz Oxley took on a little kickers franchise during the height of the pandemic and has seen it flourish since classes started again in March.

“Having previously been a headteacher, Little Kickers was a completely new adventure for me, giving me the work/life balance I craved. I purchased my business back in March 2020 and eventually ran my first class in September 2020,” explains Oxley.

“Despite various lockdowns, it has grown from strength to strength by following the simple yet effective Little Kickers business model. A year later I have 130-plus children registered with a healthy waitlist and a monthly income that would surprise you!”

The very fact that the business has grown 40 per cent since classes re-opened is yet further testament to the strength and far-reaching appeal of the brand and business model. In spite of lockdown restrictions still being prevalent across various key markets in which Little Kickers operates, 2021 remains on track to be a record-breaking year for the business.

“Our post-lockdown resurgence,” adds Christine Kelly, Little Kicker founder, “has been fuelled in no small part by the fact that growing numbers of parents appear determined to find fun-themed ways to get their kids both active and interacting with other children following months of lockdown inertia.”

Evolving with the times

Much of Little Kickers’ success stems from the fact that the business is constantly evolving and refuses to stand still and tread water. Even during lockdown, the franchisor team were hard at work producing free online content so that kids around the world could stay active during difficult times, whilst bedding down the team’s most ambitious initiative yet to make Little Kickers, ‘the most eco-friendly kids sports company in the world!’

“We recognise that the 18-month to seven-year-old children who attend our classes are the very same cohort who will be most affected by climate change, which gives us a duty of care to protect their interests as best we can,” continues Christine.

“Our first pivotal step was to switch the fabric in the 120,000-plus football strips we have produced each year from polyester to sea harvested ocean plastic. We also opened a UK fulfilment centre which significantly reduces our environmental impact because we can now send kits and other merchandise direct to our customers as opposed to via our franchisees in regional centres.

“We’ll also stop dispatching our kits out in lazy, single-use plastic bags, opting instead for planet-friendly bio-degradable bags. We’re also collaborating with Sal’s Shoes to enable our Little Kickers to send their outgrown/finished with uniforms to young footballers in developing countries, to continue their environmentally-friendly journey.”

The pandemic enabled Little Kickers to move to completely paperless operation whilst remaining on track to convert its remaining merchandise (hoodies, backpacks, water bottles, balls, and socks) to the most eco-friendly available alternatives by the end of 2022.

With a 19-year track record of success, and an enviable global network of over 350 franchisees in over 30 countries, a Little Kickers franchise provides a tried, tested and trusted model which has enabled hundreds of individuals to set up and run their own successful businesses.

And when comparing September 2019 to post-pandemic Sep 2021 (forecast), Little Kickers’ overall UK franchisee revenue is up 40%.

According to seasoned Little Kickers franchisee, Dave Homer, “We took on a Little Kickers franchise in the West Midlands in 2010. As a brand-new territory, we began our adventure with zero children.

“Yet with the on-tap help, support and guidance of the Little Kickers team, we today have over 1,300 registered children across three territories. Thanks to the Little Kickers business model, we have been able to go from a start-up to a turnover of in excess of £500,000 p.a. within 11 years!”

What does Little Kickers provide to franchisees?

A Little Kickers franchise is effectively a “business in a box” that allows franchisees to manage virtually all aspects of their business via web-enabled systems.

  • Business administration system – a task-driven system that enables franchisees to manage the administrative processes (enrolments, waitlists, and payments) quickly and easily through a secure online platform
  • Customer facing website – all classes are listed real-time on country-specific websites where customers can get logistical information about classes, enrol and make payments
  • Communications hub – the business system is tightly coupled with Little Kickers’ email application which not only gives franchisees access to email but also to online forums, shared videos, and training materials
  • Marketing system – the web-to-print marketing system was specifically created for Little Kickers and enables franchisees to create professional, customised print materials in minutes. The system is updated regularly with new templates so the franchisees’ marketing campaigns can continue to evolve
  • Dedicated head office support manager – Little Kickers’ experienced head office team are on hand to help franchisees at each and every stage of the business, working in tandem to help them achieve their longer-term growth goals and aspirations.
At a glance
Established:

2002

Number of franchised outlets:

350

Location of units:

33 Countries

Investment range:

£15,000+

Minimum required capital:

£20,000

Contact:

john@littlekickers.co.uk

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