Using their ‘little voices’ to sing in support of mental health

May 31, 2020

Little Voices, a scheme that teaches lessons in drama and singing, has been keeping children engaged during lockdown with a series of free video workshops.

In aid of supporting young people who may be struggling with their mental health as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lessons guide children through skills in performing arts from trained professionals.

Mum-of-two Rachel Bradshaw bought the Preston Little Voices franchise in 2014, and has since welcomed the classes to nine venues across Preston, Chorley and Leyland.

“As soon as the schools closed, we wanted to begin our lessons online. It was a rush but it was important that our children were able to continue taking part in their lessons and seeing their friends” said Rachel, 41.

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“It’s so important for them and their mental wellbeing to have a sense of normality and structure. We wanted anyone to be able to join, not just our pupils, to make a positive change during this difficult situation.”

The mental health issues that young people are facing during the lockdown have been highlighted by Childline, who announced they are offering one counselling session every five minutes on average.

One in five children in Lancashire have experienced problems with their mental health by the age of 11.

The ‘Little Voices’ franchise have over 70 principles nationwide and have all introduced online workshops to support young people with the power of music and performing. Children across Preston, Leyland and Chorley can now take part in the video lessons to help develop their passion for the arts in lockdown.

Other locations include Lytham St Annes, Clitheroe, Blackburn, Wigan and Accrington.

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“The Preston groups have also launched LVTV, a Facebook Live that we stream every day during the school holidays and then on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. We incorporate singing, crafts and drama to keep them feeling positive and entertained,” said Rachel, from Buckshaw Village.

“Through our workshops, we let them talk about their emotions and channel them through character and song, which is a great way for them to be open and address if they are struggling.

“It’s amazing at building their confidence because many of our students who have struggled with low moods or self esteem completely change when they get to see their friends. Their faces just light up.”

Rachel now has plans to continue the free workshops after lockdown restrictions are lifted to continue giving children mental health support for families who may be struggling financially.

“Our tutors are passionate about teaching and are doing this on a voluntary basis,” she said.

“They make sure they get every child involved and integrated into the call.”

Families wanting to be involved in the free online workshops should email or phone 07480 064828.

By James Holt

Source: Lancashire Post

Telford oven cleaning business to donate 10 per cent of takings to Severn Hospice

May 29, 2020

Ovenu Franchise UK – A Shropshire-based businessman who has just reopened his oven valeting business will donate 10 per cent of his first three months’ takings to Severn Hospice.

Andrew Bowcott, 40, from Doseley, the owner of Ovenu Telford South, had been trading for just over three months when he was forced to temporally close his new business following the coronavirus outbreak.

He has now returned to work and is determined to support the independent charity which helps families across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales living with incurable illness.

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“Both my wife and I were widowed young, so we know what an important role hospices play in families and they need all the support they can get,” he said.

“I’ve been inspired by the many stories to emerge in recent months that highlight the dedication of health care workers and wanted to show my appreciation for a charity that supports many thousands of people every year.

“As a result, I’m donating 10 per cent of all my takings until August 31 to help contribute towards the hospice’s fundraising appeal.”

He decided to reopen the business on May 18, once the government guidance had been published to allow people to work inside people’s homes, and immediately received more than a dozen new bookings as well as with rebooked appointments that had been cancelled.

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Andrew is accepting bookings at his discretion, with the strict stipulation that both parties observe the two-metre social distancing rule, along with following guidelines on hygiene and cleanliness. Payment can be accepted electronically, and it is possible to complete the whole valeting process with minimal or zero customer contact.

He added: “I, along with many other tradespeople across the area, had to temporarily close my business – a very difficult thing to do when it is your livelihood.

“Since then, I’ve been preparing to reopen at the appropriate time with the correct measures in place. It feels great to get back to work but my priority is to keep myself and my customers safe.”

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Previously, Andrew spent more than 20 years as his own boss, with business interests including a seafront ice cream kiosk, a newsagents in Aberystwyth, and more recently a refrigerated transport company.

Rik Hellewell, founder and managing director of the Ovenu franchise, said: “Andrew has taken a very responsible approach to reopening his business and has clear guidelines in place which I hope will reassure his clients.”

The Ovenu valeting process involves dismantling key components of an oven and placing them into a design-registered tank, using non-caustic cleaning products.

By Rob Smith

Source: Shropshire Star

Filta Group sees 75% revenue jump for 2019

May 28, 2020

Commercial kitchen service group Filta Group Holdings (LON:FLTA) a reported FY19 revenue increase of 75% to £24.9m for the 12 months to 31 December 2019, up from £14.2m.

The group said the surge in revenue was largely driven by a £8.6m or 34% from a full 12 months contribution from environmental services firm, Watbio, which the company acquired in December 2018. Meanwhile, organic revenue growth for the period was 16%.

Adjusted EBITDA increased 20% to £3.2m reflecting the increased overheads from the full year spending impact of Watbio.

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Adjusted Profit before tax, excluding non-cash charges (amortization, depreciation and share based payments) therefore increased 7% to £2.6m from 2.4m in 2018.

Despite moving into a FY19 net debt position of £2.1m from a net cash position of £2.1m for FY18, the group said it remains ‘in a strong position’ and expects revenues and margins to return to the levels seen in the first quarter following the easing of the lockdown period.

Shares in Filta Group Holdings were trading 4.69% higher at 111.5p on Thursday morning.

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Jason Sayers, CEO of Filta Group said “ the acquisition of Watbio has established the group as a leading provider of grease management services in the UK with room for further growth.

“We also saw some good performances from our other company-owned businesses in the UK, where revenue grew by 18% and in North America, where revenue was up by 23%,” he said.

During the lockdown period and in response to requests, the group has launched a new sanitising service, FiltaShield, which can protect against Covid-19 for up to 30 days.

FiltaShield was launched in the UK in April as a direct service to the group’s existing customers and to any others which have to ensure safety for their staff and customers.

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The group said the service is being provided in North America through its franchise network and that it will potentially look to do the same in Europe.

The company added that it was not recommending the payment of a final dividend in light of the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19.

“Our long-term focus remains on growing the business both organically and through acquisitions of high margin, repeat revenue businesses in the grease management market,” added Sayers.

By Francesca Morgan

Source: Vox Markets

Greggs set to reopen – and customers won’t have long to wait

May 27, 2020

Calling all steak bake and sausage roll fans – Greggs stores are set to reopen within the next month.

The bakery chain announced that it plans to open around 800 of its stores by Thursday, June 18.

Greggs has not revealed the locations of the stores which will reopen, however, Leeds has more than 30 Greggs stores across the city.

There are 12 Greggs outlets in Leeds city centre alone, according to Google Maps.

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Greggs stores across the country were forced to close when the country went into lockdown in mid-March.

However, the restaurant sector has started showing some signs of recovery, as Government rules relaxed.

The company has been running trials with just over a dozen stores in the North East, its home region, for around a month now.

“We plan to start preparing and opening more shops nationwide from around the 18th of June and we’re currently in the process of selecting around 800 shops to reopen, this will initially include approximately 150 franchise shops.

“All shops will open with our new tested operational measures in place.

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“And although they will open with a reduced range, this will be a significant step in us helping the nation get back up and running and serving the communities that we operate in.”

Mr Whiteside added that the company plans to open all 2,500 Greggs outlets by July 1st.

He said: “We’ll continue to look for the best ways to serve customers whilst keeping everyone safe, and as long as we can continue to do this, the final phase in our plan is to open all shops with our new operational measures in place by July 1st.”

Earlier this month, McDonald’s started reopening its British stores, starting with 15 in and around London.

Starbucks also reopened 150 of its stores earlier in the month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that non-essential stores, including clothes stores, will be able to re-open from the middle of the month, as long as they adhere to social distancing rules.

By Rebecca Marano

Source: Yorkshire Post

Subway re-opens Peterborough store

May 26, 2020

Subway has re-opened its store at Bretton Court.

The sandwich chain has been re-opening a number of its outlets across the UK and Ireland for delivery, mobile order through the Subcard® app and takeaway.

And subscribers to the app have received a notification today that they can now order from the store in Bretton.

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Subway said it has introduced “new operational and social distancing safety measures… to ensure the continued protection of guests, third party delivery and supplier drivers, Sandwich Artists™ and the wider communities in which they serve”.

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It added: “The measures include new directional signage to support social distancing, enhanced hygiene practices and the supply of PPE to protect Sandwich Artists™, guests and delivery drivers. Stores will also open with a reduced menu, operating with a selected menu of favourites, with the full menu being introduced as and when we can.

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“These procedures will ensure our franchise owners are able to operate and trade responsibly and have been tested in a small number of stores that have remained open to support and serve key workers and hospital staff.”

By Joel Lamy

Source: Peterborough Today

Franchise Brands raises £14mln as plumbing businesses see continuing demand

May 24, 2020

Franchise Brand PLC (LON:FRAN) said its drain specialist businesses – Metro Rod, Metro Plumb and Willow Pumps – have seen ‘continuing demand” for a majority of their services, having been designated as essential under the UK government’s pandemic rules, and the group also revealed it has raised £14mln via a share placing.

In a trading update released after the close on Monday, the franchise business said it expected the B2B division, which includes Metro Rod, Metro Plumb and Willow, to continue to trade profitably during the coronavirus lockdown, adding that in the first quarter of the year, underlying earnings (EBITDA) for the division were 42% higher year-on-year, while growth in Metro Rod system sales accelerated to 19% from 14%.

Meanwhile, the company’s B2C division, which includes its brands ChipsAway, Ovenclean and Barking Mad, was 5% ahead of the prior year in the first quarter, although the company said it had “significantly reduced or eliminate” franchise fees as the pandemic impacted customer demand for the franchisee’s products from early March.

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Franchise Brands added that it has taken a number of actions to preserve cash and strengthen liquidity, including staff furloughs and salary cuts for its board and senior management.

Looking ahead, the company said its first-quarter EBITDA was up 27% on the prior year, and that this added to its cost-saving measures meant it should be able to generate a positive but reduced adjusted EBITDA through the period, with a “strong recovery” anticipated in the key B2B division as business premises were re-occupied.

The B2C arm is expected to mount a slower recovery, with the firm estimating a full quarter for activity levels and income to be fully restored.

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Share placing

Franchise Brands also said it carried out a placing at 90p a share that raised £14mln with directors and senior management putting up £2.07mln. Executive chairman Stephen Hemsley subscribed for £1.35mln worth of shares to take his stake to 23.2%.

As well as strengthening the balance sheet, Franchise Brands said the placing will help position it to take advantage of “earnings-enhancing external growth opportunities”, saying it had “considerable interest” in acquisitions to expand the range of services offered by Metro Rod, Metro Plumb and Willow Pumps.

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“The group had strong momentum ahead of the [coronavirus] crisis, with Q1 trading showing significant growth on the prior year and a continuation of the accelerating rate of sales growth in its B2B division in particular.

“We have taken all the necessary actions to enable us to trade through this current uncertain period profitably, albeit at a significantly lower level”, Hemsley said in a statement.

The company’s shares rose 4% to 96p on Tuesday.

By Calum Muirhead

Source: Proactive Investors

KFC Celebrates Reopening 500 Stores With a Video Montage of Your Sad Fried Chicken Efforts

May 22, 2020

KFC has announced the reopening of 500 of its restaurants, meaning you can get your finger licken’ chicken delivered straight to your door and stop trying to crack the Colonel’s recipe. Your attempts suck anyway, and KFC knows it.

The brand dropped the news alongside a a YouTube video celebrating your attempts at recreating KFC’s crispy chicken at home; even though the recipe is a secret, there have been a few recipes that claim to have figured it out. But you’ve still got to cook the chicken to perfection, which is where it all went a bit wrong looking at your attempts. Good effort though!

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Paula MacKenzie, general manager at KFC UK and Ireland, said:

“Five hundred restaurants reopening is a huge milestone. It’s credit to the hard work of all of our amazing teams in restaurant and we wanted to celebrate the moment.

“We’ve loved seeing the nation’s homemade efforts whilst we’ve been away, so including a few of them in our new ad is the perfect tribute. Some of the creations looked incredible, some less so… now that we’re back on delivery, probably best we take it from here!”

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You heard her. Leave it to the professionals. Unless the professionals aren’t opening back up in your area. You can check out whether you can put the deep fryer back into the recesses of the cupboard from whence it came after consulting the website.

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The chain was amongst the first of the fast food giants to open its doors for delivery last month, starting off with just 11 stores and a limited menu. The franchise intended to get 100 locations in the UK back up and running for delivery by May 4, and seems to have avoided the issues Burger King and Five Guys encountered with a rabid, MSG-starved rabble rolling up for takeout with all the decorum of a zombie horde that’s had a whiff of brains. Maybe the Colonel’s fare attracts a slightly more civilised crowd, or they’ve just been biding their time before going bonkers. We’ll have to wait and see.

By Shabana Arif

Source: Gizmodo

Franchise theatre school network continues to support talented youngsters with thousands of pounds worth of training

May 21, 2020

Despite the closure of schools across the UK, a Dragons’ Den backed theatre school franchise wanted to continue offering incredible opportunities to young people with a passion for the performing arts.

Razzamataz Theatre Schools has been working with children for the last twenty years and has offered in excess of one million pounds in scholarships and grants to help children participate in the theatre arts.

Even during this lockdown period, Razzamataz are digging deep to give children with the drive and determination to make it in the world of performing arts, a chance to achieve their dreams by attending professional performing arts training.

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Razzamataz Theatre Schools across the UK have joined forces with The Stage newspaper to offer scholarships to children and young people to attend their local Razzamataz free of charge for one year, worth up to £855. The scholarship audition process has been taken completely online to adhere to social distancing measures. The deadline for entries is 19th June 2020, so there is still time to get involved.

“We were the first part-time theatre school to work with The Stage newspaper to offer these scholarships and we have seen the amazing results across the UK,” says Denise Hutton-Gosney, MD and Founder of Razzamataz. “Now, more than ever, we want to continue to be there for our families and young people in our communities and give them something to look forward to. The pandemic has taken away such a lot for children and teenagers so we were determined to keep this exciting partnership for them.”

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When schools closed, Razzamataz laid out a very thorough plan to keep offering performing arts training online. Not only have the schools been able to continue to support families with regular classes, there have also been a host of special guest workshops and interviews. Over the last few weeks, Razzamataz students have been able to participate in interviews with West End stars Kerry Ellis (Wicked) and Jennifer Tierney (Come From Away) as well as join in commercial classes with Lizzie Gough (Strictly Come Dancing). There have also been special interviews on social media so students can learn more about the industry with Felicity French (casting agent with Cameron Mackintosh) and actress Danielle Fiamanya (&Juliet).

To ensure as many youngsters as possible can enter The Stage scholarships, Razzamataz has created a system that is easily accessible to all.

The competition is open to current and non Razzamataz students aged 6-18. Videos do not need to be professionally filmed and can be emailed, sent via dropbox or uploaded via to the child’s local Principal.

They will simply need to create a short demo of no more than two minutes long showing them performing either a musical theatre song and dance, commercial dance (hip hop or street), pop song, drama improvisation or scripted drama piece. Applicants will also complete a short application form detailing why they would like to take this opportunity.

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Many former Razzamataz students have gone on to work professionally in West End shows including Hamilton, &Juliet, Matilda, School of Rock and many TV shows as well as a major film franchise. Past winners include Jess from the Seniors group at Razzamataz Medway who secured her scholarship on her seventh attempt.

“I started when I was eight because I loved to dance and I also wanted to make friends,” says Jess. “But I was so anxious and nervous that I almost quit. Throughout my time at Razzamataz, I’ve been extremely lucky playing some amazing roles. I think my biggest achievement was performing at Her Majesty’s Theatre and I remember the buzz I felt the whole day. I was amazed that I actually won the scholarship, it didn’t feel real because I had tried so hard each year but I’ve now learned that you shouldn’t give up because every year I came back stronger.”

Jess’s story echoes what many past scholarship winners say as Denise explains: “Many of our past scholarship winners have told us that winning gave them a boost of confidence and the belief that they could achieve if they set their mind to it. Offering children these life opportunities are part of the Razzamataz ethos and makes us all proud to be part of the network. Even during these very challenging times, we wanted to send out a very clear message to our students and their families that we are there for them, supporting and encouraging them to never give up on their dreams.”

Source: BM Magazine

Supporting Our Local Communities

May 20, 2020

As we all work together to stay safe and alert, OSCAR’s nationwide network of Local Nutritional Advisors are on hand to deliver essential services to customers in their communities.

Delivering a comprehensive range of pet foods, treats, toys and accessories to those self-isolating, shielding, or recovering from Covid-19, means peace of mind for pet owners who can concentrate on their families and working lives knowing their pets are going to be cared for – one less thing to worry about in these uncertain times.

Above and beyond the call of duty, our Nutritional Advisors are working tirelessly to support their local communities by finding new ways to help other small businesses and organisations throughout this crisis and are busy lifting community spirits wherever they go.

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Spontaneously volunteering to deliver essential supplies for customers that are self-isolating, thoughtfully delivering care packages to the most vulnerable and generously helping to deliver PPE face shields to the NHS front line are just some of the ways our franchisees continue to be involved in supporting their local communities.

Reacting quickly to assist our franchise network in its community strengthening role is both a privilege and a priority. Focusing on giving our franchisees the tools to carry out good work within their local communities at a safe distance means they can look after their existing customers with care (not to mention an increasing number of new customers – many of whom are either self-isolating or returning to work) whilst continuing to help their communities with confidence.

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Ensuring relationships with customers stay personal in a climate of pandemic change is challenging but vital. Quickly finding new ways of communicating and keeping customers updated in every possible way means the nimble use of social media platforms has an important role to play in keeping pet owners and business owners connected.

Nigel & Sally Bragg – Bridport

“Having just taken the business on in February we had put a lot of work into our proposed marketing strategy (which involved attending lots of shows and plenty of door-to-door leaflet drops) – none of which we could embrace when Covid-19 came along. Knowing we were going to have to rethink our entire strategy we contacted Head office and their social media guru [Sam Beirne] spurred us on with our new ideas. It was great to feel they had our backs.”

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“They were able to help us adapt and reminded us that the current situation is unprecedented for every business – no matter how large or small.”

“Many people just think it is a dog or cat food delivery service, so we’ve been able to educate them about other products in the business.”

Would you like to find out more about business opportunities with OSCAR and how you can make a difference in your area?

Countrywide Signs evolving during COVID-19

May 19, 2020

We have all had to change the way we work and live under the COVID-19 lock-down, none more so than companies that work in a sectors which appear not to be able to profitably function at this time. However, it is not all doom and gloom for Countrywide Signs who have seen their busiest recruitment period for quite a while.

When speaking to their prospective franchisees they have discovered that people are using this ‘enforced’ downtime to re-evaluate their work-life balance; deciding what is most important to them and, for some, choosing to move to self-employment from employment. Those looking for a fresh start, a new challenge & the freedom to take the direction they want are finding that Countrywide Signs is perfect franchise. The full support and training; working in the fresh air; physical work and freedom to expand where possible is really fitting the bill.

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Some of their new prospective franchisees had looked into the franchise previously but never made that leap of faith – but now they appear to have a new perspective… and here’s why:

  • UK property market is continually playing catch up regarding supply & demand – therefore whatever dip the market may have taken, we would expect a bounce back and industry articles seem to back this up e.g.

Estate Agent Today states the following on their website:

  • House sales edged down only slightly in March compared with February according to HM revenue & Customs, despite the lockdown in the final week of the month.
  • Across the UK, 99,440 residential property sales took place in March – that was 0.2 per cent down on February but 0.3 per cent higher than the same month a year earlier.
  • Agents are taking an optimistic assessment of the figures, indicating how strong the market may well be when the lockdown finally ends.

Property Industry Eye also reports that:

  • London agent Chestertons reports that it has kept busy over the lock-down period and has registered 2,369 new tenants needing to move, conducted 3,432 virtual viewings, received 396 offers and agreed 199 new tenancy agreements over the past four weeks.
  • In the same period, it has also conducted well over 500 video market appraisals for landlords and brought nearly 800 properties to the market for rent.
  • The company hasn’t carried out any physical viewings or market appraisals since the 23rd March, when the Government announced the lock-down rules, but prepared for the lock-down by getting video tours of around 50% of its properties before the restrictions were put in place and was quick to introduce virtual market appraisals, which it has been relying on since.

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The estate agency and property industry are proactively reacting to this changing world with innovations that will undoubtedly continue after lockdown is lifted as they remain efficient while employing different ways of doing business.

As a franchisee with Countrywide Signs you can grow your own sign management business with the training and support of an experienced franchise network so why not look into the Countrywide Signs opportunity today?

Click HERE to apply