Paul Crocker started his working life looking after horses. Now (hopefully after cleaning his hands very thoroughly), he owns more McDonald's restaurants than anyone else in the UK.

When he left school, he earned £25 ($33) per week, now he employs over 1,700 people.

From humble beginnings at his parents' riding school in Leicester where he taught kids to ride and helped care for the animals, he moved into the petrol station business with his dad before opening his first McDonald's franchise. He now owns nearly all of them in Kent.

He said: "My father and I spent around 13 years running petrol station forecourts across the county. But when my dad retired and I sold up, I decided to become a McDonald's franchisee in Margate in 1995.

McDonald's

Credit: Kent Live

"I felt that the times were changing. I saw that the kind of petrol stations we were running were not necessarily going to be able to continue during the massive rise of supermarket petrol stations.

"Initially, it was, like any new business, a backwards step for me. I had to restart completely, in terms of a management team. I had to work a lot more hours; there was a lot more work and a lot more risk.

"What I liked in the petrol business was that you were trading behind a fairly reputable petrol brand.

"People trust the brand names, so in a way, by going into a franchise what I was looking for was a brand name that people could relate to and that could give autonomy to make my own choices and employ my own people."

McDonald's

Credit: Kent Live

Times were hard at the beginning, but gradually he has turned all of the restaurants into success stories.

He said: "I didn't have my family to support me as I have done in the past, but I did have McDonald's. You work as a partner with them.

"In every single one of the restaurants I took on the sales stepped up significantly. I probably owe more money than any other franchisee in the company.

"But then I own more restaurants than any other franchisee in the company."

McDonald's

Credit: Kent Live

His entrepreneurial spirit obviously runs in the family, as his 25-year-old daughter, Rachel, now manages one of her dad's branches in Ashford as well.

One day, perhaps all of Kent's Maccy D's will be hers...

Words: Tom Wood

Featured Image Credit: Kent Live

James Dawson

James Dawson is a Journalist at LADbible. He has contributed articles to LADbible’s ‘Knowing Me, Knowing EU’ series on the EU referendum, the 'Electoral Dysfunction' series on the 2017 general election, the ‘U OK M8?’ series tackling mental health amongst young men, and for its ‘Climate Change’ initiative in partnership with National Geographic.

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