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Apr, 01 2005

EuroKids: The making of a successful franchise brand

187 preschools in 36 months across 78 cities and towns in India! Sounds impossible, doesn\'t it? But yes … the impossible has been made possible by EuroKids Pre-Schools which has emerged as the No. 1 preschool in the country today, both in terms of centre

187 preschools in 36 months across 78 cities and towns in India! Sounds impossible, doesn't it? But yes … the impossible has been made possible by EuroKids Pre-Schools which has emerged as the No. 1 preschool in the country today, both in terms of centres as well as in the number of students.

EuroKids is a brand that has become synonymous with quality education. It is driven by its vision to be the dominant player in the preschool segment in the world by offering the best educational experience to its young students. Therefore it is no surprise that parents look no further than EuroKids when it comes to choosing a preschool for their children.

EuroKids started its operations in 2001 with two preschools and is today India's largest preschool chain with more than 180 preschools spread across the entire geographical span of the country. EuroKids is a brand owned by EuroKids International Private Limited (EIPL), which was formerly known as Egmont Imagination (India) Ltd. The company started its operations in 1997 with a joint venture partnership with the Indian Express group and the Egmont group from Denmark. In 2003 the company was converted to a wholly owned subsidiary of Egmont International Holdings, Denmark. The company started its operations with the publishing business in India by bringing in some of the world's best known and most popular brands like Disney, Barbie, Enid Blyton, Noddy and Tintin among others.

The company had abundant access to preschool learning content and wanted to use its expertise in bringing good quality content to Indian children. This set off a process which paved the way for the setting up of an organized preschool.

It is this gap that EuroKids is trying to fill by providing good quality education at the preschool level. The pre-primary segment has been a fragmented, largely unorganized and unbranded segment with most of the preschools being run in homes, courtyards and with very scanty resources. EuroKids has changed all of it and has been able to offer a conducive learning environment for young children.

The difference is not just the colourful and enticing environment, but also the unique and integrated curriculum, which according to Ms. Kavita Mathur - Academic Head, is both, age and developmentally appropriate.

The curriculum focuses on all aspects of a child's development like language skills, gross and fine motor skills, thinking, social, emotional and moral skills. ''We first take the child from known to unknown concepts, for example we talk to the child about his home and family and gradually introduce topics like school and the people at school.'' says Ms. Mathur.

According to the EuroKids team, the friendly ambience and learning equipment is something that the child looks forward to eagerly. The positive outcome of this is that the child thinks of EuroKids pre-schools as a place where he is able to learn new things everyday in an enjoyable manner. Consequently, the child develops a strong desire to attend school and this is reflected in his learning curve.

EuroKids believes that even after they have attained leadership position as India's No. 1 Pre-School chain they have just touched the tip of an iceberg. Says Rajan, “The potential of growth in this segment is immense and we see ourselves reaching 300 preschools by the next year and our aim is to reach 500 preschools by 2008. This is a very feasible target since this category has been growing at more than 200% which is much more than any other segment today.”

In its chain of 187 Pre Schools, only two centres are company operated and the other 185 preschools are owned and operated by franchisees. The model works well since EuroKids as the franchisor provides the goodwill of the brand, the know how to set up and operate a preschool, the curriculum and training and marketing support. The franchisee is expected to get the place, the investment in the place and is also expected to manage the place.

The average investment for a franchisee is approximately INR 500,000 to INR 10,00,000 depending on the model of the center which includes the initial fee, cost of ambience and equipment. The company has 5 models, Super A, A, B, C & D models catering to varioussegments in society and the fees charged to the students also vary as per the models of the schools.

The franchise offering is also a profitable model since it provides franchisees with a decent Return on Investment (ROI) within a reasonable period. Says Mr. Ganesh Viswanathan, Director - Finance, ''Our franchisees can aim to attain a 24% ROI within a span of eighteen months.'' Adds Mr. Rajan, “Our first endeavour is to help a franchise reach a cash break even and this is possible with about 50- 60 students. After this is attained we aim to maximize their revenues and generate surplus for their center. We have always believed that success for us would stem from the success of our franchisees.”

EuroKids has a diverse profile of franchisees with a fair share of male and female entrepreneurs, and in many instances even first time women entrepreneurs. The EuroKids franchise system has evolved in such a manner that it is possible for even a first time entrepreneur to take up the EuroKids franchise.

“Within our segment, we have today, the best franchise offering since we support our franchisees with on-going training in both business and academic areas and also with the much needed marketing support with the single aim of garnering admissions for every franchise center,” says Rajan.

EuroKids has also evolved a unique three-pronged marketing approach wherein the franchisor promotes the chain on a national platform, the master franchisees promote it on a regional basis and the franchisees promote their schools in their given location. This unique approach ensures top of mind recall amongst parents.

Ask them about the challenges and the team is in agreement with the challenges they face, namely, problems in availability of trained staff and maintaining the uniformity in quality.

Says Mr. Mathur, “Sometimes it is difficult for us and our franchisees to get good quality staff and we have been trying to tide over this situation by ensuring in campus recruitment of teachers and adopting a mentor system which enables retention among the young teachers. This challenge has also made us realize the need to invest in creating a talent pool which could be harnessed for the benefit of our franchisees.”

EuroKids Teacher's Training Institute (ETTI) was born out of this need and challenge. ETTI is scheduled to be launched in Bangalore and Jodhpur in 2005 and will shortly be rolled out in all major markets. ETTI will offer Diploma and Certificate courses in Pre- Primary Teacher Education. This will ensure that EuroKids Pre-Schools will have a regular supply of trained teachers. The EuroKids Institute will also train the existing teachers and will aim to upgrade their domain skills.

The Road Ahead

EuroKids has already set its eyes on bigger goals. Diversifying its activities to regular mainstream education, the company now aims to start EuroSchool, a chain of schools that will cater to classes from I to XII, and which will be affiliated to either the CBSE or ICSE boards of education.

The first two EuroSchools will be operational in 2005 in Jaipur and Hyderabad and shortly the company plans to start EuroSchools in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Jodhpur.

''We aspire to create a chain of EuroSchools across the country that would provide best international quality education to Indian children. Each EuroSchool will be modeled as the best school in the given city with respect to infrastructure & facilities,” elaborates Mr. Vikas Phadnis, Director Marketing and In-charge of New Initiatives.

Adds Mr. Mathur, “Our vision is to impart knowledge and an acute understanding of values to students through a voyage of self discovery and learning aided by nature and technology.''

EuroKids is also planning an international foray on the preschool front in the coming months with specific focus on the markets of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka & the Middle East. They are already in advanced stages of discussion with franchise prospects in the Middle East and their aim is to commence at least 5 centres in the region by September 2005.

In recent times the education segment has been witnessing an explosive growth pattern and EuroKids seems to be fully geared to ride this path of growth. Their plans are ready and their team is gearing up for an exciting future. What are the possibilities of success? The team is optimistic, success is very much possible, they say. And they have good reason to be optimistic after all who would have believed that 187 preschools across 78 cities and towns in 36 months would have been possible!!

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