AS A professional athlete, Francis Jones was driven by an ambition to be the best. Now, those same competitive instincts are helping him to become a success in business.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Sparta Security UK. It’s also a time when Francis can say he’s proved the doubters wrong by growing the business to the point where it broke through the £1m mark for revenue in the past financial year.

With new contracts being won regularly, the company’s colourful Chief Executive Officer is confident Sparta’s annual revenue figure will reach £3m by the end of the current financial year.

“Put it this way – there’s a better chance of us reaching that target than there was of Andy Ruiz beating Anthony Joshua,” he says, drawing on an analogy from his past life in the sporting arena.

“Reaching the £1m mark was a milestone for the business because it shows we must be doing things right. You don’t grow to that scale unless you provide quality to your clients and that’s always our aim.”

Before launching Sparta, Francis ran a door supervision company, but he wanted to aim higher and set out to create the North-East’s leading security company, adopting the name from the ancient Greek inter-state where children were trained to be good citizens and brave soldiers.

It hasn’t been easy, but Sparta has assembled an undeniably impressive customer base which includes Rockliffe Hall, Bowes Museum, Darlington’s Hippodrome Theatre, property developers Bellway and Miller Homes, PWS Distributors Ltd, Tolent Construction Ltd, Gus Robinson Developments Ltd, Billingham Town Council, and Carlisle City Council.

It’s nearly a year since Sparta was signed up by ISG, the principal design and build contractor for DB Symmetry, which is delivering the giant 1.5m ft.sq fulfilment centre site at Symmetry Park on the outskirts of Darlington.

Francis is proud that Sparta has kept such a huge area secure, using security patrols with dogs and closed circuit cameras to protect the site.

The success of that operation has led to Sparta winning a new contract to manage the security at another fulfilment centre being built on the Integra 61 site at Bowburn, Durham.

“These are high-profile contracts, associated with one of the biggest names in retail, and that’s exactly where we want to be – working with the big boys. We are delighted to have been chosen because it again shows that we are trusted to do a good job with the right work ethic.”

ISG Projector Director Richard Miles was happy to give his endorsement, saying: “The Sparta Security team set the first impression of the site when people arrive. The guards are always polite and professional and set a personal example to everyone. Feedback from visitors and delivery drivers regarding our security guards is always positive.”

Francis is often remembered as the star of the tongue in cheek BBC3 fly-on-the-wall documentary series Rent A Cop, but his focus in the three years since then has been to take his business seriously and build its credibility.

Another sign of the growth of the business is that it has now opened two new offices in Newton Aycliffe and one on Tyneside, to add to its original location in Darlington.

The opening of the office in Tyneside coincides with the acquisition of an industrial cleaning company in Newcastle. It is Sparta’s first diversification into overall facilities management – something Francis sees as a step towards the creation of Sparta Group Ltd.

Indeed, it’s hard to drive around the North-East these days without seeing the Sparta branding.

The company has invested more than £200,000 in cutting-edge security equipment over the past year and bases its working practices on a military-style operations room, with a 24-hour communications system linking all employees and every site.

As well as ten branded security vehicles, assets include 12 top-of-the-range rapid deployment CCTV towers and GPS tracking on all guards so that patrols can constantly be monitored. With a taskforce deployed throughout the night, it is a 24-hour operation.

Sparta has recently become accredited to the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS), demonstrating that it complies with all health and safety standards, and it’s working towards Approved Contracting Status.

A year ago the company had 30 employees, but that figure’s now doubled and the number is expected to go on rising.

Francis is particularly pleased with the latest addition to his management team – 71-year-old Business Development Manager Robert Dickinson, who was previously Operations Director of a large security firm in London.

“He has a skill set that’s first-class and brings with him a wealth of experience,” says Francis.

“He’s a real English gentleman and he commands respect – when he talks, you listen.

“Too often as a society, we fail to appreciate the qualities of the older generation. We need to embrace their experience and life skills. I’m delighted to have Robert as part of the team.”

Robert, who is also a trained Rolls Royce and Bentley chauffeur with the Foreign Office and New Scotland Yard, said: “I enjoy providing a quality service and exceeding customers’ expectations, so I’m delighted to have joined Sparta.”

Francis is a committed Christian who passionately believes God has helped him in every aspect of his life, thanking him daily for His support.

“He’s like my Dad – guiding me, disciplining me from time to time, but always there for me,” he says.

With his wife Rachel acting as Finance Director and chief organiser, Francis is confident the Sparta success story will continue to grow.

“We are building a reputation for selling quality and if I didn’t deliver that for my clients, or in any aspect of my life, I’d be upset because trust is everything to me,” he says.

Francis ends with another sports analogy: “As a business, we’re in prime condition – like Tyson Fury at his peak – and we’re up there with the best.”

• To find out more about Sparta Security or to arrange a free security risk assessment, please call 0800 0234480, visit or email