Geek Retreat to open in Nottingham’s Flying Horse Walk

November 30, 2019

Geek Retreat, the UK’s leading geek hangout chain, is opening an outlet within Flying Horse Walk in Nottingham city centre.

Described as a comic book store, cafe and events hub rolled into one, there are already nine Geek Retreat stores in the UK in Glasgow, Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Wirral, Bradford, Edinburgh and Motherwell, making Nottingham the tenth one.

The stores stock “geek culture” merchandise such as comics, posters, clothing, figures, collectables and memorabilia as well as games and gaming accessories.

They also host events with geek culture at their heart including comic book signings, games tournaments and quizzes. Specialising in trading card games, they cater for kids and beginners with their learn-to-play sessions to tournaments for more experienced players for popular games, including Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh!

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They also stock an extensive selection of free-to-read graphic novels and free-to-play board games and games consoles – perfect for families.

It’s not all games though, Geek Retreat specialise in American milkshakes including Chocolate Thunder: A decadent ice-cream milkshake containing Nutella, Maltesers, Oreos and chocolate sauce, Rainbow Dash: A skittles and strawberry shake and Jaffa the Hutt: A smooth blend of ice-cream and Jaffa Cakes.

If a milkshake doesn’t take your fancy, choose from their selection of hot and cold drinks, American candy, burgers, hotdogs, Panini and nachos, keeping you fuelled up while you play.

The Geek Retreat will be opening in Nottingham at the end of November in the former Berketex Brides unit situated at the lower entrance to the shopping arcade on St Peter’s Gate.

Nottingham franchise owner Graham Palk along with fellow directors Owen Hilyard-Todd and Ross T Price said: “We’ve wanted to open a business of this nature for some time and when we came across this franchise opportunity, we thought it was perfect. We were looking for suitable premises and when we came across the unit in Flying Horse Walk, with its size and location, in the heart of the city, it seemed just perfect. We can’t wait to open our doors to the people of Nottingham.”

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“We are delighted that we are getting a Geek Retreat outlet in Flying Horse Walk,” said Rob Spencer, director of FHP Property Consultants, the managing agents of Flying Horse Walk. “It offers something different and unique for Nottingham and will complement the other businesses in the arcade. We wish Graham and his colleagues all the best.”

The store is hosting a Grand Opening event at 10am on Saturday 30 November, with free milkshakes for the first ten customers and Mike Quinn, actor for beloved alien Nien Nunb in Star Wars, puppeteer from The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Muppets and more will be making a special appearance, bringing with him some signed prizes for the open day.

Source: West Bridgford Wire

Slim Chickens Continues International Expansion with Sixth Restaurant in the United Kingdom

November 30, 2019

Slim Chickens, a leading fast casual franchise which features dine-in and drive-through in the “better chicken” segment, announced today that it is set to open a new location in Bristol, its sixth location in the United Kingdom, this winter.

The better-chicken brand has nearly 100 locations across the United States, the United Kingdom and Kuwait, and is known for its passionate group of followers in the markets that it has locations in. With more than 350 units in development, the fast-growing brand is well on its way to reaching its goal of 600 restaurants.

“When looking to bring a better-chicken brand across the pond, Slim Chickens was in a league of its own,” said Tom Crowley, CEO of Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), the franchise partner of Slim Chickens in the United Kingdom and a multi-unit, multi-concept group. “From its high-quality product to the passionate executive team, we knew it was the right fit and would resonate with British diners.”

Highly regarded in the restaurant industry, BRG operates more than 60 restaurants within four brands across the United Kingdom. In addition to the five open Slim Chickens locations in the United Kingdom and the Bristol location in development, BRG is set to open five to eight additional locations in 2020 to complete their multi-unit franchise agreement.

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“BRG is exactly the type of experienced multi-concept franchisees that we’re looking for as we expand into new territories, both globally and domestically in the United States,“ said Jackie Lobdell, executive director of franchise development at Slim Chickens. “Tom and his team’s passion for the brand and deep operational experience reflect the qualities we look for in franchise partners.”

The brand prides itself on its cooked-to-order fresh food and strong devoted fanbase, also known as “Slimthusiasts.” Slim Chickens has distinguished itself in the “better chicken” segment by offering high-quality food and 17 house-made dipping sauces, allowing customers to enjoy a different flavor profile with each visit. Its menu is broader than many in the segment, offering chicken tenders, fresh salads, sandwiches, chicken and waffles, chicken wings and unique side items. Fans also resonate with the southern contemporary look and feel and open and inviting layout of Slim Chickens restaurants, which speak to the hospitality mindset that anchors the brand.

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In July, Slim Chickens attracted an equity investment from 10 Point Capital, the private equity firm behind segment leader Tropical Smoothie Café.

The Slim Chickens franchise opportunity differentiates itself with prime markets available for multi-unit development, a passionate leadership team and world-class franchisee support system. As Slim Chickens expands, it is awarding franchise opportunities to qualified, experienced and passionate multi-unit groups looking to add a dynamic segment to their portfolio.

Source: Franchising

Ali Redwood celebrates 10 years of success with TaxAssist Accountants

November 29, 2019

Clifton and Portishead-based Ali Redwood reflects on her decade of business building

For Ali Redwood, it was her desire to leave corporate life that inspired her to join TaxAssist Accountants.

With a background in banking and finance and experience of running a family business, self-employment held no fear for Ali, who relished the opportunity to establish her own practice.

“The experience of running my family business equipped me with a sound knowledge of accounting and the finance skills required to run a small business,” explained Ali. “It also gave me a real passion and joy.

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“As I grew tired of corporate life, I started to look at my options and owning a TaxAssist Accountants franchise appealed to me as I valued the on-going support and readymade systems which would fast track my business.

“I didn’t want to be ‘just an accountant’. I recognised that with TaxAssist, I would be building a team, allowing me to be the principal of the business, meeting new and existing clients, managing staff, supervising work, networking and managing the customer experience.

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“The support from the franchisor and fellow franchisees over the last 10 years has been fantastic. My neighbouring franchisees are not in competition with each other, due to our exclusive territories, and it gives us a real opportunity to work together and support each other. You have your own business but you are not on your own. My staff get great training from the courses provided and I get the benefit of on-going great marketing and operational support.

“The business has grown well, and I now have an exceptionally good team in place. I opened a shop in Clifton in Bristol in 2011 and an office in Portishead in 2016 and I am hoping to open a third premises within the next three years.

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“I feel that I am now building an asset for a comfortable retirement, which I would not be in a position to do, had I remained in employment. If you asked me if I would do it all again – the answer is definitely yes!”

Radfield Home Care overhauls retention and wellbeing strategy

November 29, 2019

Radfield Home Care has announced a “complete overhaul” of its employee retention and wellbeing strategy.

The Caring for Carers Pledge, which sets out how the business values its carers and provides a rewarding working environment, has been redeveloped around a new CARE acronym; Culture, Appreciation, Reward and Empower.

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Radfield said the acronym reflects the journey that all of its employees experience – from a welcoming and supportive culture; to the ongoing appreciation and reward for their efforts and achievements; to the “continued empowerment” Radfield provides its employees to progress in both their career and personal goals.

Franchisor Dr Hannah MacKechnie said: “The care sector has a terrible history of under-paying, under-appreciating and under-supporting its workforce. Not only does this generate high staff turnover rates and deter new employees entering the sector, it also has a knock on effect on the quality of care provided to clients. As a result, focusing on looking after our employees, as well as clients, is critical.

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“The Caring for Carers Pledge has been a staple part of Radfield’s recruitment and retention for a number of years, but we have given it a complete overhaul, with the introduction of our new CARE approach at the centre of this. To roll this out nationally, we are working with our franchise partners individually to develop localised strategies to develop their culture, appreciation, reward and empowerment pledge.”

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Radfield said it has been able to keep its staff turnover rates low by investing in quality training, listening to and supporting carers and recognising hard-working carers with ample rates of pay – the majority of Radfield Home Care franchise partners are Living Wage accredited.


Source: Home Care Insight

Warrens factory and shops under threat in restructure

November 29, 2019

Warrens Bakery is set to shut one of its factories and several loss-making shops.

The Cornish business, which employs 500 staff and operates around 70 managed and franchised stores, said the uncertainty of Brexit was affecting consumer confidence and forcing it to restructure.

It warned the streamlining could lead to a significant job losses throughout the West Country.

News of the restructure comes just months after the business made more than 60 staff in production and distribution roles redundant.

Warrens has proposed the closure of its manufacturing site in St Just, which it has operated since the 1970s, saying its configuration and remote location meant it was no longer economically viable.

The company stated it remained committed to profitable manufacturing and would retain its factory at Callington.

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It was also consulting on the closure of several loss-making shops, which it said was required to safeguard the future of the wider business.

The shops under threat are managed by Warrens, which has expanded rapidly in recent years through franchising.

A consultation with staff due to be impacted by the changes is under way, but Warrens would not state how many jobs were at risk.

Following the restructure, the business plans to ramp up its focus on hospitals, travel hubs, and strategically selected high street and destination sites. It recently partnered with travel site operator SSP to open a 300 sq metre store in Gatwick Airport.

While insisting the Cornish pasty would remain core to its business, it added that it would also look to further develop its range to meet consumer demand for a variety of products and price points.

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“With sadness and a heavy heart, we are consulting with staff and examining streamlining options, which could lead to a significant loss of jobs throughout the West Country,” said Warrens in a statement.

“We would like to thank our loyal staff and customers wholeheartedly for their continued support.  We have been part of the West Country community for 160 years and, by implementing these proposed changes, we aim to serve the local economy for many years to come.”

In its latest accounts filed at Companies House, for the year ended 30 June 2018, the business made a loss of £915,000 compared to a £31,000 loss the previous year.

Warrens won the Craft Bakery Business Award in the 2018 Baking Industry Awards.

Source: Bakery Info

London home care business rated Outstanding for ‘exceptional’ community work

November 28, 2019

A South London home care service praised for its “exceptional” community engagement initiatives has been rated ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC.

Home Instead Senior Care Wandsworth, Lambeth and Dulwich achieved the top rating for being caring and well led, after previously been rated ‘Good’ overall during its previous inspection two years ago.

Alison Murray, Head of Inspection for Adult Social Care in London, said this level of improvement is a “tribute to the hard work of management and staff”.

Speaking of the achievement, franchise owner Tony O’Flaherty (pictured right) said: “We are so pleased to have received an outstanding rating from the CQC.

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“The feedback from families of how respectful our caregivers are and how they go above and beyond to continue to enable people to remain independent in their own homes is wonderful.”

Throughout the report, inspectors shared examples of how staff went the extra mile for their clients.

They noted that one client had resisted attempts by her family to go out of the house and socialise, but with the encouragement of the caregiver had regained the confidence and independence to start going to a dementia café.

A relative said, “Having my mother attend the Home Instead Wellbeing Café, a community initiative run and funded by Tony, earlier this year was probably the best thing she did.

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“She interacted with other people who, like herself, find life very isolated and lonely. Although she didn’t want to go at first, once her barriers came down she started chatting to people, telling them all about her past life, dancing and needlework.”

The CQC report highlighted how the Home Instead branch worked to promote independence with a number of community initiatives, including the Lambeth Dementia Action Alliance, to improve the health and social care of people living with dementia and their carers.

“CQC found the service was exceptional at promoting people’s independence so they could continue to enjoy their lives,” the report said.

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The provider was praised as a strong advocate for people and supporting them to access external services that would be of benefit to them.

For example, the service had registered with Thames Water so people using the service would get priority support in the case of a loss of service.

“The director was passionate about community engagement and was a major advocate in promoting and raising awareness about dementia in the community,” inspectors said.


Source: Home Care Insight

Quick Lane growth continues with new Colchester centre

November 27, 2019

QUICK Lane has opened its latest Tyre and Autocentre in Colchester as the brand continues its rapid European growth.

The new facility covers a space of 6,000 sq ft and is situated on Peartree Road Retail Park, close to Colchester town centre and the Tollgate shopping park. It is the fourth franchised Quick Lane centre to open in the UK this year.

Quick Lane centres service all makes and model of vehicle across 13 core maintenance and light repair services.

Its centres are focused around giving customers back the thing they value most – time. This is done by providing rapid service and repair functions to a highly professional standard. The new Colchester site is the second to be opened by franchisee TrustFord, which also has a Quick Lane centre in Prestwich, Manchester.

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John Dines, UK operations director, said: “Our new Colchester centre is situated in an ideal location with high retail footfall. It fits with our mission to provide convenience with confidence, delivering highly professional and transparent automotive servicing and maintenance that fits around our customers’ busy lives.

“By employing the very best local talent to offer a seamless customer journey, we are proving that Quick Lane really is brilliant at the basics.”

Stuart Foulds, Chairman and Chief Executive of TrustFord, the investor behind the new Quick Lane centre, added: “We fully support the Quick Lane ethos to provide professional service and maintenance repair services with high availability and easy accessibility.

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“Our Colchester centre is ideally located for motorists, allowing them to combine vehicle servicing with other important daily duties, in a convenient and hassle-free way.”

Quick Lane currently has more than 15 sites across the UK and over a thousand licensed and franchised centres worldwide. The franchise has ambitious expansion plans that will see it continue to grow its footprint throughout Europe over the next few years.

By Chris Wright

Source: Motor Trade News

Costa Coffee Announces Appointment of New CEO

November 27, 2019

Costa Coffee announced today that Dominic Paul will step down as CEO of the company effective Nov. 30. He will be succeeded Dec. 2 by Jill McDonald, an experienced business leader who has worked in senior roles across several industries, including retailing and airlines.

Paul has led Costa through a strong growth phase, along with the sale of Costa to The Coca-Cola Company, the complex separation from Whitbread and the development of Costa’s new growth strategy.

“Dominic led a significant reshaping of Costa’s international footprint, the expansion of the brand across multiple new platforms and a wide-ranging reset of the core UK business strategy,” said Jennifer Mann, president of Global Ventures for The Coca-Cola Company, parent of Costa.

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McDonald will report to Mann. “I am excited to welcome Jill to the Costa family,” Mann said. “Her track record, depth of international experience and excitement about joining our business makes her an ideal leader to build on the great work of Dominic and the rest of the Costa team.”

Most recently, McDonald was managing director of clothing and home for Marks & Spencer. Prior to being named to that role, she served as CEO of Halfords Group, a UK retailer of bikes, car parts, leisure products and a chain of garages. McDonald worked at Halfords from 2015 to 2017.

She held three roles with McDonald’s Corp. from 2006 to 2015, ultimately serving as UK CEO and division president, North Europe. From 1990 to 2006, McDonald worked for British Airways, ascending through a series of positions of greater responsibility, eventually serving as global head of marketing.

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McDonald started her career as a graduate trainee at Colgate-Palmolive in 1987.

She currently serves on the board of InterContinental Hotels Group. McDonald is a native of the UK and a graduate of the University of Brighton.

“I have long been a fan of Costa and have watched the company grow in the UK and far beyond,” McDonald said. “I look forward to joining the Costa leadership team and building on the great foundation and growth potential in the business.”

Paul will remain with Costa as a special advisor through February 2020, supporting the transition.

About Costa Coffee

Founded in London by Italian brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa in 1971, Costa Coffee operates over 2,600+ coffee shops in the UK and more than 1,300+ in 31 international markets and are proud to be the UK’s favourite coffee shop, having been awarded “Best Branded Coffee Shop Chain in the UK and Ireland” by Allegra Strategies for nine years running (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018).

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Making a positive contribution to the communities we are part of is extremely important to us, both here in the UK and across the world. That’s why we established The Costa Foundation, a registered charity with the aim of improving the life chances of children in coffee growing communities by helping them access a safe, quality education. So far, the Costa Foundation has funded over 80 school projects and changed the lives of more than 75,000 children. We also have a UK-wide Community Programme, which enables our teams to volunteer their time to good causes locally and to invite community groups to make use of our welcoming space in store.

In 2011 Costa Coffee purchased Coffee Nation rebranding it to Costa Express. Today, Costa Express operates over 9,000+ coffee bars in nine international markets and proudly serves the same famous Mocha Italia blend found in stores, combined with fresh milk to create a delicious and warming cup of coffee on the go.

Source: Franchising

Property Franchise Group performs better than expected after fees ban

November 26, 2019

UK-based property company, the Property Franchise Group, updated the market on its trading on Wednesday, reporting that the second half of the financial year to date had remained strong, with management said to be confident that the group remained in line to achieve market expectations for the full year.

The AIM-traded firm said it had set a new record for lettings revenue at a franchisee level in the trading month of October, with franchisees reported lettings income of £5.96m.

Its board said significantly, that was achieved despite the loss of tenant fee income, following the ban on charging tenant fees coming into effect in England and Wales on 1 June.

Tenant fees had previously represented 16% of franchisee lettings revenue in those two countries.

The company put the performance largely down to mitigating actions encouraged by the group as a franchisor, that its franchisees had managed to alleviate the impact of the tenant fee ban, alongside “some pent-up tenant demand” feeding through.

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It said that was a “clear demonstration” of the benefits of the franchise business model.

Growth in management commission – the recurring monthly fees which franchisees charge landlords for property management services – had increased 10% year-on-year from £3.88m in October 2018 to £4.28m this October.

The group said it believed it was the “high level of satisfaction” of its landlord clients that lay behind its better-than-expected progress in shifting the burden of cost from tenants to landlords, as clients of its franchisees would rather retain their services than do it themselves or instruct another agent.

It had previously advised investors that it could take until the end of 2020 to fully mitigate the lost revenue from the ban, but its management said it was now confident that the objective of full mitigation would be attained by June 2020 – one year after the introduction of the ban.

“We are delighted that the mitigating actions we’ve recommended to our franchisees have taken effect as hoped and at a good pace,” said chief executive officer Ian Wilson.

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“We now expect to achieve full mitigation of the impact of the tenant fee ban a full six months earlier than originally hoped.”

Wilson said the firm’s ability to draw on its “wealth of industry experience” and act quickly to support its franchisee members provided it with an advantage in the market.

“At a challenging time for the industry, where many independent lettings agencies are considering leaving the sector, our group continues to show its strength.

“The sales market has softened further in the second half, however our lettings business is outperforming our budgeted expectations.

“Our franchise business model has proven to be remarkably resilient in these testing conditions and we expect this to continue.”

At 1423 GMT, shares in the Property Franchise Group were up 11.48% at 170p.

By Josh White

Source: ShareCast

Right at Home sets out goal to become UK’s most trusted home care provider

November 26, 2019

Right at Home has set out an ambitious strategy to become the UK’s most trusted home care provider.

The business hopes to achieve this goal over the next five years by supporting its franchise owners to deliver high quality care to their clients.

Speaking to Home Care Insight, CEO Ken Deary said that when he first launched Right at Home in the UK 10 years ago, his vision was to build a company around trust and quality, and although the business model has been refined along the way, this vision hasn’t changed.

“As a business we have many objectives, but in summary, our goal in the lead up to 2025 is to become the most trusted brand in UK home care.

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“I don’t think we’ll ever be the biggest [home care provider] because we want to concentrate on quality and trust. But trust only comes from doing everything ethically and to the very highest standards – both of which are paramount to the future of Right at Home UK.

Right at Home UK employs 15 national office staff, who are based either regionally or at its head office in Liverpool, and support around 60 franchise territories.

Of those offices inspected over the last 18 months, 41% have been rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.

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Deary describes Right at Home UK has a co-operative network, with employees “going the extra mile” to support one another.

“That may sound strange because myself, as the CEO, and our COO Lucy Campbell have to deliver the big issues like strategy, but we also realise that everyone wants a voice, so we always make sure we listen to our franchisees and our stakeholders and gather all of their opinions before we make decisions that affect the majority of the network,” he said.

Asked how Right at Home UK stands out from its competitors in the sector, Deary said: “I don’t see them so much as competitors – we are all in this to benefit the vulnerable adults that we serve.

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“There are many businesses in this sector who I totally respect. There are good parts of their operations that we can learn from and vice versa. I guess, if there is a difference between our business and others, then it’s our ability to make decisions very quickly and the lovely family feel we have amongst our staff and franchise owners.”

The full interview with Ken Deary, CEO of Right at Home UK, will be published later this month.


Source: Home Care Insight