Chicken chain opens talks with potential franchisees aimed at accelerating UK roll-out

January 31, 2020

Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) is poised to enter into talks with potential franchise partners in a move aimed at expediting the growth of its Slim Chickens brand.

The company currently operates six stores – which it claims are all trading above expectations – with a seventh planned for Bluewater shopping centre in Kent next month.

But it reckons there is scope to roll out sites even quicker and is keen to engage with new partners capable of accelerating its growth.

Laurie Mcilwee, chairman of BRG, said: “Since signing the master franchise for the UK and Ireland, we have successfully launched six stores and all of them are trading beyond even our own expectations.

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“Based on this success and how the UK has embraced Slim’s as a brand they love, we are very ambitious about its future growth potential. We therefore see partnering with individuals or consortia of investors as the ideal way to accelerate the roll-out of a highly profitable, uncomplicated brand.”

BRG insists simplicity is key to the brand’s popularity. The Slim Chickens’ menu is straightforward to execute and leans on a list of high-quality ingredients using house recipes.

Trained team members use a decade-old process to marinade and lock in moisture and every meal is cooked to order, ensuring maximum flavour in every bite.

The menu comprises chicken tenders, wings, sandwiches and salads as well as a host of quintessentially American sides, like mac and cheese, fried pickles and hand-spun shakes.

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Judd Williams, BRG’s franchise director, added: “There is no doubt that the momentum behind Slim’s is rapidly gathering pace as we’ve proven both the concept itself and the opportunity for fast-casual, better chicken in the UK market.

“Slim Chickens offers a differentiated brand in an exciting segment, attractive unit level economics, an exceptional support system, streamlined operations and an unmatched training program. We therefore look forward to commencing discussions on exciting multi-unit opportunities with the right partners.”


Source: Food Service Equipment Journal

German Doner Kebab Unwraps Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Expansion Plans

January 31, 2020

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is in for a treat as German Doner Kebab prepares to bring its unique brand of fast-casual dining to the region.

In partnership with an established multi-branded franchisee, the innovative Scottish-headquartered restaurant business will open its first GTA outlet in June 2020.

The GTA growth has been announced as German Doner Kebab also forges ahead with plans in Vancouver and Ottawa. The brand’s expansion into North America also continues in the USA, with an expected three store openings by mid-2020.

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German Doner Kebab’s North American plans follow a period of relentless UK growth which has propelled the innovative fast-casual brand to one of the nation’s fastest growing chains.

GDK has opened 38 restaurants in the UK over the past two years and has a development pipeline of 350 franchise units in place over the next seven years.

That success has been mirrored in the latest franchise sales trend that reflected a like for like sales growth of approximately 50% over the past year.

Nigel Belton, Managing Director for GDK North America, said: “We are extremely excited to press ahead with our significant growth plans that will allow the brand to develop a footprint of strategic restaurant locations throughout North America. We have already signed up five franchisees with a development pipeline of 75 stores.

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“The GTA is an area of diversity and we can’t wait to put our plans into action. First impressions are vital, and we will stop at nothing to ensure GDK North America quickly becomes the household name that is already loved by our loyal legion of customers throughout Europe and the Middle East.”

German Doner Kebab’s unique dining experience is sure to appeal to the next generation of Canadian customers, who will love the new restaurant’s slick appearance and a great-tasting high-quality product range.

A packed menu ensures consumers throughout the GTA will be blown away by GDK’s wide range of healthy kebabs and mouth-watering sides, including flaming fries, doner nachos and doner spring rolls.

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German Doner Kebab has already proven to be a hit in the UK and its spot as one of the nation’s much-loved and most-exciting brands was confirmed having been named the number one place to eat in London by TripAdvisor.

The German Doner Kebab franchise business currently employs 500 people within the UK and also operates franchised stores in Sweden, Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Oman and Bahrain.

German Doner Kebab has also recently announced plans to open 40 new restaurants in Ireland, while expansion plans are also in place for Saudi Arabia.

For further details regarding German Doner Kebab’s first GTA location, email

Source: Franchising

Cranage swimming school makes waves with new board

January 30, 2020

BABY and child swimming school Puddle Ducks is making waves by creating a new board of chief executives to drive the company forward.

Cranage-based Puddle Ducks, which has 32 franchise owners nationwide, has appointed co-founder Jo Stone as managing director.

Fellow co-founder Tracy Townend will also join the newly-formed board, but will be stepping down from day-to-day activity.

Ali Beckman, technical director and head teacher, who has been with Puddle Ducks for more than 15 years, is delighted to take up her position on the board.

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Also joining is chartered accountant, Gillian Bardin, formerly managing director of Taylor Patterson, a financial services group based in Lancashire.

The board will be supported by a steering group of a further five Puddle Ducks executives with diverse skills and business backgrounds.

Puddle Ducks managing director Jo Stone said: “When we launched Puddle Ducks we knew we were creating a business that would fill a gap in the baby and child swimming sector.

“Making the decision to franchise the business was our next bold move and one that has been a great success.

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“Franchising has allowed us to expand the business across the UK through a dedicated network of ambassadors, who all have a vested interest in the brand.

“We are now extremely excited about this next phase of Puddle Ducks. Establishing our new board of directors and supporting steering group allows us to further develop our trusted brand as our network continues to grow. These are exciting times ahead.”

Puddle Ducks was founded in 2002, and the company teaches 21,000 children to swim every week across the UK.

The company recently received approval for its planning application to develop a flagship swimming centre at Barons in Northwich, which is set to open this year.

By Ian Ross

Source: Knutsford Guardian

Budget hotel operator EasyHotel to open Dublin property next year

January 30, 2020

Budget hotel operator EasyHotel is targeting a 2021 opening date for its first property in the Republic.

Currently, the company’s only presence in Ireland is its one hotel in Belfast, which is run on a franchise basis.

A long-since planned opening in Dublin is now set for the second half of 2021 and further Irish openings have not been ruled out.

The company acquired a freehold site in the Smithfield area of Dublin City nearly two years ago. Planning permission initially allowed for a 96-bedroom hotel, but the company is now targeting a 160-bedroom property.

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The Dublin hotel will be owned and operated by the company, rather than via a franchise partner.

While further Irish openings have not been ruled out, EasyHotel’s immediate expansion focus is on UK cities and mainland Europe, particularly France and Spain.

EasyHotel is still listed on the London Stock Exchange, but is now majority-owned by a consortium including property investor Ivanhoé Cambridge and Luxembourg-based property fund manager ICAMAP Investments, as opposed to EasyJet and EasyGroup founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

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Speaking on the back of a mixed set of annual results, EasyHotel’s interim chief executive Scott Christie said management is excited by its development pipeline and the potential for the brand in Europe.

The company reported a 56% jump in revenues — to £17.6m (€20.8m) — for the year to the end of September, but also incurred a pre-tax loss of £3.57m, compared to a profit of £870,000 12 months prior.

By Geoff Percival

Source: Irish Examiner

Kettering town centre Subway to close

January 29, 2020

Fans of all things cheese and toasted soon won’t be able to get their Subway fix at Kettering’s High Street branch.

The sandwich giant has confirmed the store at numbers 15-17, next to HSBC, is to close on July 1.

But there are already plans to open a new store to “deliver a better experience for customers”.

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A spokesman for Subway said: “We can confirm that the Subway store at High Street, Kettering, will be closing on July 1.

“The franchise owner is actively looking for a new location to open a store in the new Fresh Forward decor and deliver a better experience for customers in Kettering.

“The franchise owner looks forward to sharing further updates with the local community and to welcoming loyal customers back to his store once a new location has been secured.”

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There are three other Subway stores in Kettering – in Silver Street, Northfield Avenue and Linnell Way – with another found in the petrol station near the police building just off the A43.

It’s hoped the High Street unit won’t be empty for long with plans already submitted to Kettering Council to make use of it.

Applicants Fortress Two Limited want to change part of the ground floor to a flat. It would reduce the retail area from about 150 sq m to 90 sq m

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The plans say it would lend itself to either a restaurant or cafe or use as a financial services unit.

Planning documents added that any use of the unit after 6pm – when Subway currently shuts – would be beneficial for the area of the town centre.

By Sam Wildman

Source: Northants Telegraph

Clip ‘n Climb looks to open first-ever franchise centres in the UK

January 29, 2020

Clip ‘n Climb, an international leader in the fun climbing market, is looking to launch its first-ever franchise centres, with a commitment to open 100 new UK venues.

Clip ‘n Climb UK has announced that it will be rolling out its successful model by launching nationwide franchise locations and concessions. To begin this project, it is looking to launch a new centre in Manchester. This follows a surge in popularity for indoor climbing.

The company has operated in the UK since 2011 and is part of Entre-Prises UK Ltd, a subsidiary of the ABEO group. It already operates over 80 centres around the country and has a cumulative yearly turnover of around £25 million. Now, it will license the brand to independent operators as part of an expansion project.

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Complete turnkey leisure business model

These franchises will include a complete turnkey leisure business model, with design and installation for over 40 climbing challenges, catering to visitors of all ages. For operators who share similar core value, this is an opportunity to benefit from a full training and support programme. This features insights and tips on business planning, finance and safety.

Franchise centres will also be able to take advantage of discounts on equipment, maintenance checks, further training, upgrades, marketing support and additional booking system features. Customers will enjoy a range of quality climbing activities, with Clip ‘n Climb’s auto belay devices. The centres will also have a branded cafe, party rooms and soft play.

Vicky Coupe, Clip ‘n Climb franchise manager, says: “Clip ‘n Climb has revolutionised indoor climbing. The theme park meets climbing wall concept offers a thrill and challenge to people of four years of age all the way up to 80+.

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“We’ve seen leisure climbing grow in popularity since we installed the first Clip ‘n Climb centre in the UK and industry insights report a 40-50 per cent increase of indoor climbers in the last two years alone. With the news that sport climbing will make its Olympic debut at the games in Japan 2020 its popularity is set to soar and so it’s the perfect time to look for the right people in the right locations to share in our success.”

“Launching the franchise model marks a major milestone and cements our ambition to give even more people in the UK, especially in Manchester access to fun, safe, indoor climbing.”

Clip ‘n Climb will also be heading to the 20th IAAPI Expo in Mumbai, India, from 26 – 28 February 2020. The team will be showcasing the company’s full range of products and services at the show.

By Charlotte Coates

Source: Blooloop

Newcastle drainage franchise plans expansion after record £1m turnover

January 28, 2020

Drainage and plumbing franchise Drain Doctor has announced that it ended 2019 with a record £1m turnover.

The franchise, which emergency plumbing, blocked drains and drain repair service, has increased its staff numbers by 20 per cent in the last four years.

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The family-owned business is part of a national franchise network of over 55 Drain Doctor locations across the UK, and plans to expand this decade by reinvesting in new equipment.

Jim Watson, franchise owner, said: “2019 has been a fantastic year for the business and I am confident that we can continue to build on this success and raise our game even further going into 2020 and beyond.

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“Looking to the future, our focus is to further grow the commercial side of the business and reinvest in new drainage equipment and technology so we can expand our client base and work in new sectors, such as housebuilding, sports and hospitality.

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“We will also continue to increase our growing fleet of technicians and support staff, recruiting the best talent in the local area, and get involved in community related initiatives, such as DIY SOS, where the business can give something back.”

By Chloe Shakesby

Source: BDaily

Warrens Bakery to ‘focus on growth’ after agreeing Company Voluntary Arrangement

January 28, 2020

Crisis-hit bakery business Warrens has agreed a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with its suppliers and landlords.

A CVA is a process that enables a company to negotiate the repayment of its debt, rather than filing for liquidation or insolvency.

Warrens said its suppliers and landlords had voted overwhelmingly in favour of a CVA, based on the company’s growth strategy, financial forecasts and long-term relationships.

The move follows the announcement of a major restructure by the business, which made a loss of almost £1m in its last reported financial year.

Since the announcement, it has shut 22 company-managed shops and closed its factory in St Just, stating it was no longer economically viable. Its workforce has fallen from 500 to around 350 under the plans.

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The business also made 60 staff in production and distribution roles redundant last summer.

Warrens continues to operate 44 managed shops, and said it was committed to profitable manufacturing at its factory in Callington

“We are particularly grateful for all the support we received from bakery industry participants, which reinforces what a special sector this is, including through periods of adversity,” the company told British Baker this week.

It described the CVA as an “exciting opportunity to reposition the business”.

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“We can now focus on growth without the limiting constraints we inherited some years back,” Warrens stated. “Going forward, as well as growing our franchise arm, we will actively develop our own stores estate.”

The business has recently partnered with travel site operator SSP to open a 300 sq metre store in Gatwick Airport, and has said it planned to ramp up its focus on hospitals and travel hubs.

Warrens said the Cornish pasty would remain at the core of its business but it planned to also develop its range to meet consumer demand for a variety of products and price points.

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.

By Vince Bamford

Source: Bakery Info

Controversial food franchise Chick-Fil-A to push on with UK expansion despite closing Scottish restaurant

January 27, 2020

Controversial American fast food franchise Chick-Fil-A is to push ahead with plans to open a ‘permanent’ outlet in the UK – despite furious backlash over their funding of ant-LGBT causes.

The fried chicken restaurant closed its only Scottish location in the food court of the Macdonald Aviemore Resort earlier this month after a “pilot” period.

The decision to open the franchise in October quickly attracted criticism after it emerged the chain pumped millions of dollars into organisations which actively oppose same-sex marriage, leading Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie to organise a boycott of the hotel brand.

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However, the restaurant has insisted the Aviemore outlet did not close as a result of public pressure, stating the closure was “in line” with their plans to trial the franchise.

A Chick-Fil-A spokeswoman said: “The Chick-fil-A at Macdonald Aviemore Resort officially closed its doors on January 18, 2020 in line with our plan for a temporary pilot licensed location.”

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“It has been our pleasure to serve guests at this pilot restaurant for the past several months, and we are grateful to Macdonald Hotels for allowing us the opportunity to learn from each and every customer.”

She added: “These insights will help us immensely as we look to having a permanent location in the UK in the future.”

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In 2017, the fast food brand contributed over $1.8 million into anti-LGBT organisations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which requires staff to accept “sexual purity” and opposes same-sex marriage.

The founder of Chick-fil-A was also known to fund organisations that supported gay and transgender conversion therapy, while his now-CEO son claimed that same-sex marriage was an act of arrogance against God.

By James Delaney

Source: Herald Scotland

Swing with your baby at Swindon’s Sling Swing

January 27, 2020

Social mums are enjoying quality time with their babies at Swindon’s own Swing Sling club.

The club, which has been running for five years, has recently been taken over by Lucy Bartlett who also runs the Sling Swing Bristol club.

Lucy used to attend the club herself when her son, Leo, was born and she couldn’t resist taking the chance to run the club herself. She said: “I now own the franchise because I used to attend one of the classes.

“As soon as I saw it was available I wanted to snap it up.

“There would have been a lot of disappointed mums if it had stopped.”

The main aim of the class is to create a bond between the baby and the parent as well as providing a relaxing time for everyone.

It involves gentle swinging to music while the baby is in a sling, hence the title Sling Swing.

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But the club doesn’t just provide the bonding with your child, it lets the parents be sociable with each other.

Lucy added: “The best thing is the social side. At the end of the class we sit around for 10 or 15 minutes just to have a chat with other mums.

“The social side is one of the most popular, you don’t get many baby classes where you can chat.”

Three Sling Swing clubs are available in Swindon throughout a normal week but more are put on during half term and on special occasions.

The reason behind this is to get more relatives, including dads and grandparents, involved.

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Lucy admits that many of the people who attend the weekday classes are mums.

She said: “We try and do family classes at the weekend or in half term and it gets the dads involved. We’ve also done a Fathers’ Day class in the past.

“I think the norm tends to be the dad at work but we’re very much an open group – it’s not just for the mums.

“It would be lovely to see a mix of people but some dads might be a bit intimidated.”

The club is open to anyone with a baby who has passed their six-week check.

Another plus is that you don’t even have to have your own sling. There are ones available for parents to borrow, you just need to let them know.

By Connor Mountford

Source: Swindon Advertiser