The Little Gym® Signs Master Franchise Agreement For Middle East

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Existing Kuwait City-based franchisees of The Little Gym International have entered a master franchisee agreement with the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based franchisor, and will now begin recruiting franchisees to develop as many as 50 new locations throughout the Middle East over the next decade. The Little Gym is a franchisor and the leading provider of motor skills programs for young children aged 4 months to 12 years old. This agreement will cover further development in Kuwait as well as in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Oman, Qatar, Iran, Cyprus, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Iraq and Yemen.

The Little Gym International, franchisor of gyms providing curriculum-based, non-competitive motor skills development programs to children aged 4 months to 12 years old, has entered into a master franchise agreement with an existing franchise owner in Kuwait City, Kuwait, to develop at least 15 and as many as 50 locations in the Middle East over the next decade.

Husband-and-wife team Adel Al-Bader and Khaldah Al-Ghanim, who opened their first The Little Gym in Kuwait City in 2003, will continue operating that location and developing more sites throughout Kuwait. In addition, they will now seek prospective single- and multi-unit franchise owners to develop The Little Gym locations in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Oman, Qatar, Iran, Cyprus, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Iraq and Yemen. They will also assist those who join the franchise in opening and operating their locations, providing business training, site-selection and site-design assistance, operational consulting, market adaptation, marketing support, translation assistance and other ongoing services, with support from The Little Gym International.

Both individuals have significant business and franchising experience. Mr. Al-Bader has a degree in Business Administration and worked in human resources for Kuwait Airways for 14 years and was a branch manager for Quality Tools Franchised Co., a SNAP-ON franchisee, for five years. His wife, Khaldah Al-Ghanim, has a degree in English Literature and taught English at Kuwait University until 2000. Both have been full-time franchisees since joining The Little Gym in 2001.

The Little Gym currently has 301 locations in 19 countries worldwide, including 261 in the United States. Widely recognized as the leading developer of motor skills in young children, the chain was recently named #1 in the children's fitness category for the second consecutive year by Entrepreneur (January 2008), capping off a year of milestones and accolades that included being named a "Hot Retailer" by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and one of Inc. magazine's 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the United States (September 2007). The company also recently opened its 250th U.S. location, 300th worldwide gym and first site in Manhattan.

With a presence in Asia for the past 13 years and a solid foundation throughout Europe, The Little Gym now has a strategic vehicle in place to expand in another key region of the international market, according to Vice President of Franchise Development Ruk Adams.

"This is a very significant development for us on the international stage," said Adams. "It places an experienced entity with a vested interest in growth and a proven success in our system in the Middle East to oversee the selection, recruitment, inauguration and ongoing support of additional franchise owners there, and will allow our development efforts to move forward with full force. In fact, we have already contacted some 20 prospects who previously expressed interest in The Little Gym in Saudi Arabia, Dubai/United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Oman and Cyprus, and we plan to meet with some of them early in 2008."

The Little Gym faces a warm reception throughout the region, said Ms. Al-Ghanim.

"The Little Gym is unique in its structure, use of music, individual focus on each child, and the way its themes and fun lead to increased self-esteem. Parents in Kuwait believe in The Little Gym because they noticed a difference in their children, and we're confident that feeling will spread to other locations as we fulfill our development agreement," she said.

About The Little Gym and The Little Gym International
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based The Little Gym is considered the premier developer of motor skills in children worldwide. Founded in 1976 by Robin Wes, an innovative educator with a genuine love for children, the company uses curriculum-based gymnastics, movement and other programs to promote coordination, balance, rhythm and flexibility, working with children between the ages of 4 months and 12 years. Younger children participate in classes with their parents, while older students attend classes on their own and add a greater sense of independence to the benefits they gain from the program. In addition, The Little Gym's programs have a proven track record of enhancing children's listening, social and intellectual skills, in short, laying the foundation for a lifetime of success.

Ranked the #1 children's fitness franchise by Entrepreneur in both 2007 and 2008, The Little Gym International, Inc. was formed in 1992 to franchise the The Little Gym concept. Franchise opportunities are available throughout the United States and overseas; ideal franchise candidates in the United States and Canada will have net worths of at least $200,000, with at least $50,000 in liquid assets, and will possess some prior business management experience. Requirements for Master Franchise agreements for international development vary. Information about The Little Gym and available franchise opportunities can be obtained by visiting http://www.thelittlegym.com or calling, toll-free, (888) 228-2878.

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Greg Pitkoff

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