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The Little Gym franchise forms joint venture to pave entry into China

The Little Gym International, a premier developer of skills in children worldwide, has announced that it has entered into a joint venture that will bring the concept to mainland China.

According to the information provided, The Little Gym Ventures (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. is represented by TLGI and Shanghai Lan Yue Yang Educational Information & Consulting Company Limited, whose principal operating partner is Wei Hu. The joint venture opened its first location, “The Little Gym of Xu Jia Hui,” at 580 Tian Yao Qiao Road, 2F In Center in Shanghai’s Xuhui District last month, making China the 20th country in which the chain now has a presence. Plans call for expansion to 100 locations throughout China over the next five years.

Offered at more than 300 locations worldwide, The Little Gym’s programs help children aged 4 months to 12 years old develop vital motor skills in a fun and non-competitive environment, while simultaneously enhancing their self-confidence and social skills. The concept was developed more than 30 years ago by Robin Wes, a kinesiologist and educator, and has blossomed into a global company serving more than 100,000 children each week. Each age-appropriate course offers a combination of music, movement, learning, cooperation and fun. From parent/child basic movement courses for the youngest members to more specialized programs in dance, sports skills and karate for older children, each curriculum builds on past lessons and lets children progress at their own pace.

Little Gym’s CEO, Bob Bingham, commented, “We arrived in Asia more than 15 years ago, and have enjoyed great success there,” he said. “In fact, our Master Franchisee for the Philippines and co-Master Franchisee for Singapore, Helen Castro Limcaoco, was recently named our Franchise Owner of the Year. But it’s taken a while for us to enter China, because we are very selective about awarding master franchises. Now that we’ve teamed with Wei Hu, he and his partners will bring valuable business expertise and local knowledge to the task of developing gyms throughout the country.”

In addition, the joint venture’s mission to establish 100 gyms across China signals a shift toward more aggressive international growth for the chain. With The Little Gym having already successfully opened locations in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe as well as North America, Bingham said, the concept and business model have proven they can work well in virtually any country in the world.

“We look forward to further international expansion as we find master franchise candidates who share our values and would like to grow The Little Gym business in their region,” he said. “We want to partner with well-established entrepreneurs who are more familiar with the government, geography, financial environment and, of course, consumers in their own parts of the world, and can use that expertise to drive development of our brand throughout their regions, overseeing operations locally as they grow.”

Related arrangements are already in place in several international markets. In late 2007, The Little Gym awarded a Master Franchise agreement to its Kuwait City franchisees, Adel Al-Bader and Khaldah Al-Ghanim, for up to 50 units throughout the Middle East. That agreement will soon celebrate its latest addition, a new gym in Cairo, Egypt, scheduled to open this month. (kbp)

The Little Gym (USA)

children's physical fitness and development program
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