Picture by Parkway Photography
Pictured (left) with Mark and Alison Simpson is Mark Bleakney, Invest NI.
Funky Monkeys Playcentres Ltd, run by Newry husband and wife Mark and Alison Simpson, is intending to expand its successful franchise model into the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain, with support from Invest Northern Ireland.
The company currently has franchises operating in Lurgan, Downpatrick, Newtownabbey, Larne, Dungannon and Belfast. It is investing £255,000 to engage in marketing development activities, employ a Business Development Manager, and access franchise expertise from a marketing consultancy to assist in market segmentation for the new franchise model.
Mark and Alison will also be undertaking customer visits and attending relevant shows in the UK and Republic of Ireland to highlight their brand and franchise opportunities.
Invest NI has offered £44,000 of support.
Mark Bleakney, Manager of Invest NI’s Southern Regional Office, says: “Funky Monkey Playcentres is already operating successfully in Northern Ireland and now, having acquired the European trademark for the business as well as the licence for Ireland, has a great opportunity to significantly grow its franchise base.
“With Invest NI support it is aiming to market the brand across the UK and Ireland with the aim of selling 40 franchise licences over the next three years. As a result the company plans to create five new jobs.”
Mark and Alison Simpson have substantial experience of owning and developing a franchise having previously run a successful coffee franchise.
Mark Simpson comments: “Having sold six Funky Monkey franchises in Northern Ireland in a year we believe that our franchise model is now ready to be replicated across a network throughout Great Britain and Ireland.
“The success of the expansion will depend largely on our ability to aggressively market the brand and attract franchisees. The support we are getting from Invest NI is essential to allowing us to do that.”