'All is good': Footy star backs troubled Croc's Playcentres franchise
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'All is good': Footy star backs troubled Croc's Playcentres franchise

Former AFL football star Glenn Archer has come out in defence of the troubled Croc's Playcentres franchise.

The national chain of playcentres is under scrutiny by the parliamentary inquiry into franchising but Mr Archer, who owns and operates the Keilor Park franchise in Melbourne says "all is good".

Glenn Archer in his playing days with North Melbourne.

Glenn Archer in his playing days with North Melbourne. Credit:Andrew White

'You have to do the work'

"We are in a good location and location is key in retail," Mr Archer told Fairfax Media. "I understand that some franchises haven't gone as well as others but that is the nature of business. Some people fall into the trap of getting into a franchise and thinking the franchisors are going to do eveything for you. That's not the case. You can't rely on everyone else to do the work for you. You have to do the work."

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He said turnover for his franchise at Keilor Park was strong.

"We are not going to make a squillion dollars out of it, but it is a good little cash flow business," Mr Archer said.

Like many Croc's franchisees, Mr Archer found the cost of setting up his Croc's Playcentre was more than the franchise advertises but he said this was explained to him.

"It was a bit more than $750,000 purely because we put in more to the store, ours was a lot bigger than others," he said.

Heath L'Estrange when he played for the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Heath L'Estrange when he played for the St George Illawarra Dragons. Credit:Christopher Chan

Mr Archer is not the only big name to buy into Croc's with former rugby league star Heath L'Estrange also a former franchisee.

Mr L'Estrange bought into the Croc's Playcentre in Prospect in New South Wales last year but has already departed the franchise and declined to comment but Mr Aldons said he remains a friend.

Mr L'Estrange opened the first Croc's Playcentre in New South Wales.

Mr L'Estrange opened the first Croc's Playcentre in New South Wales.

'Confronting to say the least'

While Mr Archer is backing Croc's, business broker Michael Dillon told Fairfax Media some franchisees are not given correct information when they buy into the franchise.

Mr Dillon of Just Business Brokers said his dealings with Croc's co-founder Brett Aldons "were confronting to say the least" including a meeting in October 2016 which Mr Aldons set up where he asked Mr Dillon to sell a company-owned store.

"What I found strange when I met with them is I looked at their profit and loss and gave them a price," he said. "They said 'No it's worth a lot more than that'. I said 'It's not'. They said 'What do we have to do to make it worth that?'. I said 'Wow you can't change anything the profit and loss is what it is'."

Croc's franchisee Stacey Dowsett and lawyer Prue Greenfield outside the Croc's Playcentre in Carnegie with other franchisees and their families.

Croc's franchisee Stacey Dowsett and lawyer Prue Greenfield outside the Croc's Playcentre in Carnegie with other franchisees and their families. Credit:Enrique Ascui

Mr Dillon said when he tried to sell franchisee's stores Mr Aldons would try to sell them company-owned stores instead.

"The feedback I was getting from buyers is they would meet with Brett, and Brett would try to sell them everything else except that store," he said.  "It didn't happen once or twice, it happened about four times. That's how I make my money. I ended up walking away from selling Crocs after that. I understood what I was dealing with and I didn't want to be part of it."

Mr Aldons said Croc's categorically denies the "unfounded allegations" made by Mr Dillon.

Claims profit forecasts don't eventuate

Prue Greenfield, principal lawyer at law firm Macpherson Kelley, which acts for both franchisors and franchisees, said some franchisees have been provided with incorrect financial information.

Ms Greenfield has acted for a number of the Croc’s Playcentre franchisees for the past two years.

"All franchisees I have acted for have been provided with profit forecasts that have not eventuated and within a short period of time, these franchisees started to make a loss," she said.

Prue Greenfield is a principal lawyer at the law firm Macpherson Kelley, who act for both franchisors and franchisees.

Prue Greenfield is a principal lawyer at the law firm Macpherson Kelley, who act for both franchisors and franchisees.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

"We say there is a lack of good faith in many instances and unconscionable conduct," she said. "These women deserve some sort of justice."

Mr Aldons denies the claims made by franchisees and says Croc's Playcentres support its franchisees because its success is based on their success.

"We comply with the Franchise Code of Conduct at all times and always act reasonably and in good faith," he said. "The vast majority of our franchisees believe in the model and are running successful businesses."

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