Having navigated through a double dip recession the founders of award winning softplay centre Eddie Catz celebrate 10 years of trading and over 1.5 million children through their doors and announce plans for expansion including more playcentres and a nursery.
Today Eddie Catz has 3 centres, two in SW London and one in Berkshire with a projected turnover of £1.8 million in 2015. The company’s revenue has grown steadily year on year, with the biggest jumps in 2008 when a second London venue was opened in Wimbledon and again 2010 when a third centre was founded in Newbury.
The company has ambitious plans. Not only is it in negotiations to acquire a fourth venue in SW London but it is also completing a feasibility study to redevelop its South Wimbledon branch to open a 60 place nursery adding another half a million pounds of turnover to the business. The company will also be licensing an HR software that it has designed and developed over the last 3 years to manage all human resource information including staff hours and payroll which will be attractive to other industry operators as well as gyms.
10 years ago, London parents Maria and Darren Johnson opened their first indoor play centre in Putney in southwest London, in the heart of what is fondly called ‘Nappy Valley’ by its residents. It was the first of its kind, an upmarket facility that was more than just a play space.
“We wanted a space that was more than just a play centre, a place where children could have an enriching experience by playing and learning in a safe and clean environment, whilst a parent could have some respite in the form of a grown-up space to chill out, read the newspaper, surf the net, have a meal or join a class with their child. We couldn’t find anything, so we decided to create one ourselves”, explains Maria, who manages the company’s Finance and Marketing.
The company has been consistently ahead of the curve. Eddie Catz was the first to launch a full weekday curriculum of pre-school classes in partnership with some of the country’s leading class providers. It was also one of the first playcentres to branch out into Lasertag and Make a Bear Parties and also to have themed holiday workshops. In 2014 Eddie Catz also opened a photographic studio with professional portrait photographers Memory Gate Photographic.
“Probably our biggest WOW factor is Eddie, our feline mascot,” says Darren Johnson who manages the operational side of the business. “He has his own fan base and he comes out twice a day in all venues and for every birthday party, and that’s about 25,000 parties since we’ve opened” he says.