Photographers mob and tear at the clothes of Paul Thompson and Steve Franks as they leave
a conference they have just presented at in one of China’s major industrial cities. They are not
rock stars, however; they are the founder and CEO respectively of Water Babies, a UK based
franchise that has developed an innovative business model delivering unique swimming and
water leisure activities for babies and parents. Little could Paul have known that when he took
his baby daughter swimming for the first time that the seed of an international franchise had
been sown. Today, 57 franchisees teach 50,000 babies weekly in the UK, with further
franchises operating out of Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany and China. Having
risen to the top of the list of UK franchises, Paul and Steve were beginning to ask questions on
how could they sustain the success of their unique swimming and leisure services model in
what was previously a blue ocean? How could they coordinate an international franchise
network as well as maintain quality of service? What challenges might they encounter when
entering a large and complex market such as China, and potentially even the USA?

Topics/Industry: business modelsgrowth strategyInternationalisation

Publication date: 05/09/2017

Published by: ELITE

Authors: Chris Corbishley, Nelson Phillips

Length: 8 pages

Geography: UK

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