The Bardon Group reports that it has sold its UK master licence of ComputerXplorers to one of the brand’s best performing franchisees, Stuart Harley, who joined the company in 2019 when he became the Southampton franchisee.
Chairman of The Bardon Group, Nigel Toplis, has also stepped down from the day-to-day running of the multi-franchise company to pursue conservation interests in South Africa. The group says that moving forward it is focusing on its business-to-business franchise brands Recognition Express, Kall Kwik and Techclean. Consequently the directors of the group decided the time was right for a new owner to take ComputerXplorers to the next stage of its development.
Toplis comments: “We have invested time, money and resource in creating what I believe to be the foremost children’s education franchise. Despite COVID the business is currently at its strongest and I believe is primed for significant growth over the next two to three years. However, father time doesn’t stop for anyone and I feel the time is right for me to move on to other things.
“Mentoring our Bardon Group franchisees has always been one of my most important roles, so when Stuart and I discussed his ambitions for the future it seemed an obvious transition for him to take on the master licence. He is passionate about the brand and is one of our top performers. My co-director Laurence Bagley and I wanted to ensure that ComputerXplorers found a good home and we are confident that under Stuart’s guidance the brand will go from strength-to-strength.”
The company adds that Harley has a background in business development and his ambition has always been to build a bigger business. His original vision was to expand across the south coast territories, but when the opportunity of taking on the whole business came along he jumped at the chance.
‘I might have his seat’
Harley comments: “From when I first met Nigel it became a standing joke that one day I might have his seat. But I didn’t actually believe it. I have always had the ambition to do more, to grow more, to do different things. So when we had the conversation and the opportunity arose, although I didn’t expect it, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. The proof is in the pudding so the Bardon Group directors obviously liked what I’ve done at ComputerXplorers Southampton so far.”
With exciting plans for the business, working closely with its 15 franchisees Harley says he is looking to take ComputerXplorers to the next level. “The business has a great DNA. It just needs tweaking in a few areas, a new website and a new feel for the brand to keep us at the forefront of education technology franchises. I am aiming to grow the network to 25 within two years and establish ComputerXplorers as the local authority provider of choice.
“We’ve set up a steering group to shape the future of our business. We have so many specialists within our own network we have all the skills we need to do everything in house from writing new software packages to marketing, graphic design and business development. Together we’ll achieve our ambition far faster and more collaboratively.”
Harley explains that he plans to keep the cost of the franchise at £14,950 and whist its current focus has been on delivering lessons to children aged from three years-old to 13, the age range for the new look model has been extended to 19 years-old. He adds that the scope of his Southampton branch has broadened by working with children and young adults with special educational needs and disabilities, additional services that will be incorporated into the new-look ComputerXplorers franchise model.