Centre of attention – Funtopia
In the first of our regular profiles of leading family entertainment brands we look at FEC Funtopia and its plans for international domination through its fast expanding franchising programme….
Already present in a number of international markets and with ambitious plans to reach more, Funtopia is part of the larger Adventure Facilities Group which includes climbing wall pioneer Walltopia and also spin-off brands such as Rocktopia, Ropetopia, Ninja Course, Rollglider and Adventure Hub.
Founded in 1998, by two climbers – Ivaylo Penchev and Metin Musov – total group turnover now totals around €21m and the Group has successfully completed projects across its brand portfolio in 42 countries, employing over 600 people.
Funtopia is the group’s brand of adventure entertainment centres which is expanding through a mix of franchises and corporate openings. But it is the international franchising operation, which is driving the firm’s growth. It hopes to have 50 open across the world by 2020.
According to the firm: “Site selection is, in our own experience, one of the major contributors to an entertainment centre’s success. Therefore we have developed a detailed approach to the evaluation process. It takes knowledge and experience and involves analysis of several key factors:
– Traffic flow
– Physical obstacles
– Psychological factors
– Areas heavy on retail & restaurants
– Venue size
– Utility availability
– Key characteristics of vicinity
– Patterns of travel in community
– Site orientation
“Upon acquiring this information, our team compares the possible spots for the future venue, and orders them in desirability. At this stage our experienced management team go through a deep analysis of the possibilities and if needed evaluate the candidates for the venue on-site. When the analysis is completed and the most suitable spot is selected, our team will guide and assist you through the process of renting or buying the space under the best possible conditions for your business.”
It has just made its first foray into the Asian market with a 500 sq.m. Funtopia located in Courtyard Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It features Walltopia branded climbing walls, Jungle Ropes challenge (by its Ropetopia brand), Magic Maze softplay area and Giant Slide.
Over in Israel, April this year saw the opening of the country’s second Funtopia. The 600 square metre Richon Lezion facility arrived 10 months after the opening of the first Funtopia in the country – Funtopia Kfar Saba.
And in Australia the firm has also opened its second Australian Funtopia in Maribyrnong.
“We wanted to build an impressive venue where participants of all ages experience entertainment at a whole new level,” says Leo Neophytou, Funtopia Master Franchisee for Australia. “We designed a truly special place where best-in-class attractions allow everyone to have fun, where kids are encouraged to develop physical and social skills. No expense was spared on the technology which makes the venue one of the safest play centers in Australia, allowing parents to sit back and enjoy a specialty coffee with 360º views of their loved ones.”
“The whole project took a little over 12 months from concept to completion”, says Ruzha Karaatanasova, CEO, Funtopia Franchising. “Funtopia Maribyrnong is built on an area of 1,600 sq m (17,222 sq f), and features 40 fun climbing interactive walls, including a giant slide, Jump in the Air and Sky scraper challenges, kids bouldering wall and a 650 sq m (6,997 sq f) playground area. Family shared experience is what we believe in and offer to our customers, we know how important this is.”
Funtopia’s Australian franchisee is planning to open three more Franchise locations and also continue expanding in New Zealand soon.
The franchise programme is key to the success of the Funtopia brand. Initial investment for a standard size centre (without a restaurant) is around $629,674 to $758,216. For a large sized centre (with a restaurant) the projected initial investment is somewhere between $1m to $1.3m, including the initial franchise fee of $35,000.
Prior to opening new owners are given assistance in writing their business plan, with assistance in financial forecasting and budgeting plus help with design specifications and resource planning, facility management, operational training and recruitment and training staff.
Once open they are given help with sales and marketing campaigns, event management, customer care, budgeting and planning, revenue generation and protection, security, health, safety and access.
Ongoing development then includes technical and maintenance services help with updating the facilities.
Funtopia Glenview Illinois
Size: 1600 square metres
Party rooms: 4
Zones: Climbing playground, ropes course, softplay, quick jump, caving, cafeteria.
Funtopia Kuala Lumpur
Size: 450 square metres
Party areas: 1
Zones: Climbing play. ropes course, soft play
Size: 1200 square metres
Party areas: 2
Zones: Climbing playground, Climbing gym, zipline, cafeteria