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Sports coach from Stoke-on-Trent seeks to diversify with “business in a box” franchises

A business that helps thousands of young children get up and be active has franchised the business as part of its plans for growth.

Little Athletes was started by qualified athletic trainer Daniel Hatton in 2015 to provide physical activity sessions for infants in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and South Cheshire.

Today, the company’s six-person team runs weekly sessions for preschools, nurseries and playgroups and offers a schedule of up to 40 community classes per week, including schools. football, toddler football sessions and a new ‘fit for £ 1’ program at various sports and recreation centers in the department.

Today the company offers a number of franchise opportunities across the UK for anyone looking to run their own business.

Dan said: “It’s amazing how much we’ve grown from the start. I started the business in 2015 with six kids in the middle of a field in Sandyford.

“Now we have over 40 community lessons a week, we have six football schools, baby groups, toddler football and we always have new kids who want to come to our lessons.”

The 28-year-old added: “During the lockdown we wondered 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 was there, and with so much of spare time, this was the perfect time to begin the franchising process.

“The business is growing so quickly, especially over the past two years, but we have to make sure it is growing in the right way.”



Daniel Hatton

Since May 2020, Little Athletes has been working with a team of specialist advisors to put everything in place for future growth and potential franchisees.

And the company has already secured its first franchisee – in Macclesfield.

Now he hopes to secure up to five more Little Athletes franchises over the next 12-18 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 inquiries from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Word was spreading but another lockdown occurred and those leads eventually fizzled out as no one was sure what was going to happen.

“Now we are trying to get the business back to where it was before the pandemic and we are ready to start talking to all potential franchisees.”



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He added, “Franchisees will get everything they need. We will provide the kit, a signed vehicle, the corporate branding, the lesson plans, everything. It’s a business in a box.

“We are focusing on the UK at the moment, but it is definitely our plan to roll it out internationally.”

Little Athletes Staffs – which is currently still run by Dan – will eventually become the Stoke-on-Trent franchise.

In the long term, Little Athletes’ head office will move to new premises in the city in order to be able to organize 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 that would happen.

“I’ve looked at other franchise companies in the past and seen how well they’ve done, so I’m sure it’s going to work.

“I want to show people that someone like me, leaving school without a GCSE, can still run a successful business if you’re willing to put in the effort and work really hard.”


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