The joint-founder and owner of Puddle Ducks, which recently launched their 50th franchise territory in the UK, has praised the help and contribution made by their legal advisors Knights. Puddle Ducks opened for business 21 years ago and have grown into one of the country’s leading pre-school swimming brands.
Their 50 territories are run via a network of 30 franchisees, and franchisor Jo Stone says they are enormously grateful for the advice and direction provided by Knights. Jo said she is particularly grateful for the work carried out by Fiona Boswell, who is a commercial partner and franchising expert with the legal specialists.
Fiona first became involved with Puddle Ducks seven years ago, with the franchise currently providing swimming lessons to approximately 25,000 UK children. Puddle Ducks specialise in helping children develop their skills and confidence in the water, from birth up to the age of 10.
And speaking from the company’s head office in Cheshire, Jo explained: “Fiona and the Knights’ team have been an invaluable part of our journey. They have helped us to focus on our relationships with franchisees, as well as the community. They also look after our legal and commercial outputs.
“As a franchisor, it’s important to have different levels of opportunities for the range of people wishing to join our franchise network. You could have newcomers or very experienced operators who might have two or three branches.
“Knights have helped us to police the brand and ensure that the documentation and policies keep pace with our growth. It’s a constantly changing exercise, but also a very fulfilling one.”
Based in Holmes Chapel, a village approximately 10 miles north-east of Crewe, Puddle Ducks is currently attempting to extend its reach by designing and launching its own purpose-built pools. In what is an extremely ambitious new project, these pools will be rolled out across the UK, with the first flagship swimming centre currently operating in Barons Quay, Cheshire.
Because of this planned expansion, Puddle Ducks are now searching for new swimming teachers – in a number of areas nationwide – in order to meet growing demand. Their legal partners Knights, which have offices in over two dozen UK towns and cities, are specialists in franchising, employment and property.
Fiona Boswell, who has been an advisor to Puddle Ducks since 2016, said: “We assist national and international brands of all sizes across a range of sectors. We have supported many ongoing success stories, and Puddle Ducks is one of our most exciting ventures. It’s been incredibly enjoyable to be a part of this next stage of their growth.
“This new plan will give franchisees full control of their operations, without being solely reliant on third party-owned pools, such as those in hotels, schools and gyms. It’s an interesting move by Puddle Ducks and you can really see it taking off. The franchisor has strong, ethical values and is constantly finding new ways to help franchisees maximise their businesses.”
With the news that local authorities are struggling to keep leisure centres and swimming pools open, due to the high cost of energy and rising leasing options, Puddle Ducks is keen to fill the gap with regards to the provision of children’s swimming services.
Fiona continued: “There are a lot of opportunities in the UK, such as building partnerships with the hospitality and entertainment sector. Several franchisees have brokered relationships with pools in independent schools.
“Hopefully, the new plans outlined by Puddle Ducks will help them to become a fully sustainable model in the future.” And Puddle Ducks has now achieved five-star franchisee satisfaction, with WorkBuzz, for 11 years in a row and took home the ‘Rising Star of the Year Award’ at the prestigious HSBC EF100 Awards 2023 back in March this year.
Founded in 2002 by Tracy Townend and Jo Stone, who met at ante-natal class, Puddle Ducks teaches children to swim independently and confidently, while always respecting the power of water. The franchise focuses on essential survival skills and water safety, with lessons ranging from birth to 10 years.
The company offer specific instruction to toddlers, as well as pre-school and primary school children, while lessons are geared to a child’s ability and confidence level. Meanwhile, Jo Stone has also admitted to being concerned by the prospect of local councils having to close down leisure centres across the country.
She added: “Following the aftermath of several lockdowns, and the increase in energy costs, local communities are at risk of losing their leisure centres. Our ethos has always been to ensure that every child and parent is able to access swimming lessons – which should be viewed as a major life skill.”
About Knights: Is one of the fastest-growing legal and professional services businesses in the UK. They deliver high-quality services to more than 10,000 clients from 26 offices nationwide. They specialise in all key areas of corporate, real estate and commercial law. The company has been in existence since 1759.