How Harrogate mums are keeping fit during the lockdown

May 18, 2020

Losing the ability to meet up with friends and family has been extremely hard to swallow, and many have been left feeling isolated and lonely – a quarter of UK adults, according to The Mental Health Foundation.

Being a mum can be a lonely time under normal circumstances, so for many these feelings have been compounded as a result of the current crisis.

Getting out of the house and meeting up with other mums is a lifeline for many, and the vast array of Harrogate baby groups and play venues do an incredible job of providing support during what can be the most magical, but also the toughest of times.

So when these groups and venues were forced to close, mums were amongst the hardest hit.

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In an attempt to continue to provide that lifeline, many businesses in the town aimed at mums, have completely transformed the way they work, moving on to online platforms or offering innovative ways of reaching out to their clientele.

One of these is MummyFIT Harrogate and York, a pre and postnatal fitness business, which is usually based in gym studios, such as Nuffield Health and David Lloyd.

The franchise is owned by Nina Meads, a journalist-turned personal trainer and mum-of-two, who specialises in pre and postnatal exercise.

She said: “Just before the forced closure of the gyms, I got a call from MummyFIT HQ saying they had taken the difficult decision to stop running sessions for the safety of our members.

“It was an emotional call, as we genuinely care about all our mums, and we really didn’t want to let them down.”

Nina, former education correspondent at The Yorkshire Post, took over the franchise in November, in a bid to follow her passion to help mums train safely when pregnant and after having a baby, as well as help to promote the benefits of exercise for mental health.

“So when lockdown happened, it was a case of ‘how do we continue to offer that support, and still be there for our mums?’” she said.

“The owners of MummyFIT, Jenny and Alex Drage, made the decision to pull sessions at the gyms on the Monday night, the week before lockdown, and by Friday, they had completely transformed the business and MummyFIT LIVE was launched.”

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Nina, who also coaches at F45 Training Harrogate, which is also offering live online workouts, currently runs sessions every weekday via Facebook Live. This allows mums to interact during the workouts, which are adapted specifically for pre and postnatal mums.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d be training my members from my kitchen. However, I was absolutely blown away by how many mums embraced it, with more than 50 taking part in the first session,” said Nina.

“The MummyFIT team knew from the response that we had to keep it going, with so many saying it was keeping them sane, by continuing to give them that vital ‘me time’ and interactivity with other mums.

“Exercise is so important for physical and mental health, and when you have young babies, or even older children, it is so important to have that time just for you, alongside other mums who are in the same boat.

“In the gym studios, mums can workout alongside their babies, who love to watch their mummies work up a sweat while they chill out on playmats.

“With the live sessions, it’s exactly the same, and the mums often post ‘sweaty selfies’ with their babies – we even have older children and dads getting involved. And last week we had a virtual coffee morning on Zoom, so we could have a much-needed catch-up.

“Staying healthy, physically and mentally, is more important than ever during lockdown, and that is what MummyFIT is all about.”

Harrogate mum Kate Froggatt said the sessions had given her a sense of purpose during isolation, as well as a “sense of belonging to a fabulous mummy community”.

She said: “As well as providing a well-needed structure to my week, with no support from friends and family during this time, MummyFIT has been an outlet to relieve any stress or tension built up from having to be inside with a baby around the clock!”

Teresa Kelly said MummyFIT had helped her “so much” during isolation.

She said: “It’s been great joining in with all the other mums and our motivational trainer. Even though we’re not physically together, it seems like we are! It has given me a sense of belonging and a purpose during these strange times. I’m actually doing more exercise than before now.”

Long-term member Emily Ryan added: “I started MummyFIT classes when Alice was six-weeks-old and have been so proud to be part of such a friendly and supportive community. I was so glad when the sessions went live and this community spirit could continue. Nina is a fantastic PT and really uplifts me. It is such a fantastic start to every day and it keeps us mums happy, healthy and sane.”

Pregnant mum Emma Oakes said she was now even fitter than before lockdown.

She said: “The online live classes makes it feel like I am in a normal class, interacting with others. Nina is amazing at keeping me motivated and always tailors it for pregnant women, while keeping it fun.

“It’s challenging but also achievable. My husband has also joined in a few times and I don’t think he thought he was going to sweat that much! It gives me something to look forward to, knowing I’m exercising with others and not just by myself. MummyFIT has been a lifeline during this crazy time.”

Last Monday, MummyFIT launched a two-week ‘Reset’ challenge, which is aimed at encouraging mums to make healthier food choices and move more.

New member Katie León said: “The challenge in particular has been wonderful for my mental health, giving achievable daily challenges which provide a sense of satisfaction and achievement. It’s really been an invaluable experience during lockdown for me.”

How you can take part:

MummyFIT LIVE Harrogate and York sessions run every weekday at 10.30am.

– A free live session runs every Monday night at 7.30pm.

– All sessions are adapted for pre and postnatal mums, however you must be at least 12 weeks pregnant and six weeks postnatal to take part – 10-12 if you have had a cesarean section.

By Brogan Maguire

Source: Harrogate Advertiser

Belvoir CEO delighted housing restrictions have been lifted and expects quick lettings bounce back

May 17, 2020

Belvoir Group PLC’s (LON:BLV) Dorian Gonsalves says the re-opening of the housing market by the government has come earlier than expected.

The ban on people moving and renting houses was lifted on Wednesday, two months after the lockdown was introduced but a month earlier than it was budgeting for.

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Gonsalves expects a swift recovery especially on the lettings side as this is a fast-moving market and people might have been fed up with their house during lockdown, while landlords will be keen to get voids filled as soon as possible.

Belvoir has also so far seen a far lower level of arrears than it predicted when the lockdown was introduced.

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Gonsalves adds it did not lose one franchise to financial distress during the lockdown period, underlying the strength of its network.

By Andrew Scott

Source: Proactive Investors

Ohannes Burger chooses Nottingham for second UK site

May 15, 2020

Despite current circumstances surrounding Covid-19, gourmet burger restaurant Ohannes Burger has opened their second UK site at 61 Long Row, Nottingham city centre.

The popular franchise, with 16 restaurants across Turkey, opened their first UK branch in Arnold on the outskirts of Nottingham in November 2019 and has quickly gained a reputation for top-quality handmade burgers at affordable prices.

They have transformed the 570ft² ground floor with basement stores, former Maryland Chicken takeaway with an eclectic fit out into a venue seating up to 30 people with open kitchen.

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In order to operate within government guidelines, the store has opened initially on a click and collect basis as well as delivery through UberEats.

FHP Property Consultants secured the letting on behalf of the private landlord. Oliver Marshall, Associate Director at FHP said:

“We were instructed to market the property initially on a confidential basis, using our market knowledge and contacts we quickly drummed up significant interest culminating in agreeing terms with Ohannes who performed in a timely and
transparent manner.

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Ohannes are an exciting new brand and it is testament to Nottingham that they have chosen to launch the UK business here, following the success in Turkey. Long Row is an ideal location with them being in and amongst a great mix of food operators benefiting from strong footfall throughout the day and night. Their impressive fit out makes them really stand out”.

Ohannes are looking to expand their UK stores further into the East Midlands over the coming years.

Source: WB Wire

TaxAssist Accountants launches in the USA

May 14, 2020

Following successful expansion to the Republic of Ireland and Australia, the UK’s largest network of small business specialist accountants is now launching in the USA.

Having proven that the TaxAssist Accountants concept can be successfully replicated in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Australia, TaxAssist is now offering Area Representative and single-unit franchise rights to selected states in the USA.

Karl Sandall, Group Chief Executive Director, says: “After years of careful research and planning, I am pleased to advise that we have completed the formation of TaxAssist Direct USA Inc. This has been a long-held wish of mine personally and always the company’s long-term aim, with our successful franchise model offering massive potential.”

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The shareholders are The TaxAssist Direct Group Ltd (85%), Hal and Jamie Gross (7.5%), and Mike and Penny Melling (7.5%).

Hal Gross, based in New Jersey, holds the role of President, with Mike Melling as Director. Karl Sandall, Phil Sullivan and John Chambers, (who are all Directors of The TaxAssist Direct Group in the UK) will also act as Directors for TaxAssist Direct USA Inc.

Hal is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with extensive experience in risk, audit and regulatory leadership roles at major global financial institutions including most recently at UBS’ Investment Bank and Citi, where he held senior positions in the Corporate and Investment Banking operational risk teams. Earlier in his career Hal also held management roles in American Express audit after starting his career in public accounting at Main Hurdman (KPMG).

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“Hal recognised the huge opportunity that TaxAssist Accountants would offer to develop and grow accounting and advisory services for small businesses in the USA,” explains Karl, “and with a strong corporate and financial background, in Hal, we saw the ideal candidate to partner with, to launch, build and mature the TaxAssist Accountants brand across the US through the Area Representative model.”

Mike Melling has had a 35-year career as a senior financial services executive in the UK, USA and Asia for American Express, GE Capital and Marsh & McLennan including board-level roles for subsidiary companies. He also served as UK President for operational consultancy Alexander Proudfoot Company serving large and mid-capitalisation businesses.TaxAssist Accountants

As well as having extensive international business experience, Mike is also a successful TaxAssist Accountants franchisee in the UK, having purchased a large single location practice resale for £1m in 2012, followed by a further resale purchase in 2015.

Karl explains: “Mike brings with him a huge amount of energy, experience and expertise. He will be able to share best practice, having successfully invested in staff, technology and client acquisition to build his practice up to a 20-person team serving nearly 2,000 small businesses, Directors and individual clients from seven TaxAssist shops and offices.”

TaxAssist is expecting a surge of interest in franchising in the USA during and post the coronavirus pandemic, as people re-think their lives.

“These are unprecedented times for everyone, but we have a very sound business model, and our services have never been in more demand, as people look to their accountant for advice and guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic, hence our confidence in continuing with our plans to launch the franchise in the USA.

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“Our business model is going to appeal to CPA-qualified accountants working in industry, individuals with a strong financial services or banking background, as well as those that already own an accounting practice they wish to develop as part of a global brand. We are looking for people who are capable of setting themselves up in business, but see the value in the brand, training, support and systems that investing in a franchise with TaxAssist Accountants brings.”

David Paulson, Senior Vice President, Franchise Development, will be seconded to New Jersey later this year, where the USA Support Centre will be based. David is working behind the scenes with the TaxAssist International Team and investors to do as much preparation as possible in readiness for the official launch which will take place at the 2020 International Franchise Online Expo on May 28-30.

The global TaxAssist network supports more than 265 franchised areas with 425 shops and offices, servicing more than 86,000 small businesses and self-employed individuals. Global annual billings are in excess of £56m.

Cake Box reopens 79 sites after revamping processes

May 13, 2020

Cake Box franchisees have reopened 79 stores – and the business hopes to have all its sites open again by early next month.

In line with many bakery chains, Cake Box closed all its stores after the government updated it social distancing advice in March.

Since then, the business has been reviewing its processes and operations and consulting with franchisees and their employees.

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As a result of this, Cake Box has put in place new processes:

  • Operating with smaller teams in store to allow for social distancing
  • Clear demarcation of required social distancing throughout the premises
  • Staff wearing PPE at all times including face masks and shields
  • Implementing an enhanced personal and property hygiene regime.

The company said that after an initial trial of these processes, with stores operating click & collect and delivery, it told franchisees they could start trading again if they wished.

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To date, 79 franchise stores are open offering a limited menu of products supplied from the Cake Box bakery in Enfield where the company has also brought in new health and safety procedures. The bakery is operating with reduced staffing levels to maintain appropriate distancing.

“Initial demand from customers has been encouraging, albeit at much lower levels than in normal trading conditions given the ongoing lockdown restrictions,” stated Cake Box, which hopes to have its full estate open by early June.

Cake Box has previously said that relatively low levels of rent and overheads would help its franchisee businesses recover from the impact of coronavirus.

By Vince Bamford

Source: Bakery Info

Subway to reopen 25% of stores on phased basis

May 12, 2020

Subway has announced a phased reopening of its stores across Ireland and the UK.

The franchise said that roughly 25% of its stores will begin to reopen from today.

They say new safety measures to maintain social distancing have been introduced in order to protect customers, workers, and delivery drivers.

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New introduced measures include supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, new signage to ensure social distancing with new fixtures and enhanced hygiene practises.

Subway said that these measures have been tested in the stores that remained open for frontline workers such as hospital staff.

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Country Director, Subway UK & Ireland Colin Hughes said that workers and suppliers had shown “great resilience” in adapting to the disruption posed by the coronavirus. He said that Subway is “extremely grateful” for the support as it continues its next phase of reopening.

He said the new operating framework will protect customers, workers, suppliers, and delivery drivers and the franchise would continue to support communities during the virus outbreak.

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In a statement, Subway said Health Service Executive (HSE) workers will receive 25% of their orders and that they have donated 250,000 sandwiches to local communities.

Source: Irish Examiner

Dunkin’ is selling DIY donut decorating kits for people to enjoy at home

May 11, 2020
  • Dunkin’ has launched DIY donut kits so you can decorate your own at home.
  • The kits consist of donut rings, different types of frosting, and a variety of sprinkles, and are available at participating stores.
  • The idea came after an employee at a California store asked to take some plain donuts home for her nephews to decorate, a Dunkin’ press release explained.

If you fancy making your own donuts but realistically know it would not go well, Dunkin’ has got you covered.

Select branches of the beloved donut chain are selling DIY donut kits so you can decorate your own treats at home -with all the hard work of baking them already done.

The kits consist of donut rings, different types of frosting, and a variety of sprinkles, allowing kids and adults alike to decorate their own donut creations in as lavish a style as they please.

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The idea started in California after Norma Valkenaar, an employee of a Dunkin’ franchise in Concord, asked her boss if she could take home some donuts, frosting, and sprinkles for her two nephews.

The franchise owner, Matt Cobo, a father of three, knew how much of a challenge it is for parents to keep their children entertained right now, so he was all for it.

“The reality of this experience has set in, and we know it’s not going anywhere anytime soon,” said Cobo in a Dunkin’ press release.

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“Like most parents, we were looking for ways to entertain our kids and bring a little levity to this situation.”

After seeing how much fun Valkenaar’s nephews had decorating their own donuts, Cobo’s Walnut Creek and Concord stores began creating DIY Dunkin’ Donut Kits and dropping them off at doorsteps of friends and family members as a surprise.

“This is our small way of trying to brighten someone’s day,” said Cobo. “The simple joy of getting to create your own donut can make kids light up, and if we can be a part of creating that moment, that makes us happy.”

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Inspired by Cobo, various Dunkin’ franchisees across the US have started offering DIY donut kits – you just need to check with your local branch to see if they’re available near you.

If not, you can still get your Dunkin’ fix via drive-thru ordering, carry-out, and delivery, with a select number of locations also offering curbside service.

And over in the UK, popular brand Doughnut Time has also launched DIY donut kits allowing fans to recreate their favorites or design their own delights.

By Rachel Hosie

Source: Business Insider

A new printing and design business has opened in Hilsea

May 10, 2020

Minuteman Press Portsmouth opened its doors with a number of aims and missions, which include making print sustainable, working with the community and helping businesses to succeed utilising effective marketing and messaging – an area where the team feels it can contribute to business growth.

Owner Derek Vidgen, who decided to set up the branch of the franchise a month before lockdown measures were put in place, said that he has experienced a tough few months both to keep positive in deciding to keep moving forward, as well as working with limited availability on all the equipment and expertise that is required to achieve an opening.

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Derek wants to promote a message of positivity around launching businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: ‘Over the years I have researched and discussed with colleagues when is the best time to start a business.

‘One decision scenario that was not examined was “why don’t you start one month before a pandemic which causes the temporary closure of 50 per cent of businesses and the lockdown of another 20 to 30 per cent with only the critically important key workers still working?”

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‘But there’s three things – one, I am in the fortunate position to be able to start a business, two, others are also making critical decisions some of which are life or death, and three, all business owners need to cope with the hand they are dealt then adapt and change to produce success. I have already seen evidence of others doing this and the challenge for all of us is to find our own, new way forward.

‘New businesses can succeed at this time, hopefully myself and others in the same situation will prove this.’

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The firm is also supporting the city’s post-lockdown recovery by offering free advertising and free posters for businesses in Portsmouth.

The initiative, BounceBack UK is a website where business owners can promote their businesses and offer promotions.

By Hope Mckellar

Source: Portsmouth

Pure Gym reveals trial of global franchise model

May 8, 2020

Budget operator, Pure Gym, has revealed it’s trialling a franchise offering to grow the brand globally.

Speaking at the Fit Summit in Singapore today (5 May 2020), Pure’s chief strategy officer, Francine Davis, said the company is looking for master franchise partners in countries such as China, India, and Japan. She said Pure was testing the model and the first couple of deals had already been agreed.

Davis explained the move is part of Pure’s expansion strategy, saying: “We could see many areas across the world that are underserved by good quality, low-cost fitness with no contract models. We think Pure Gym has a successful model we can transport into other areas of the world and this has led us to create this franchise offering.”

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She said Pure had considered expanding with direct development, but ruled this out as too high risk and has looking at the option of going down the franchising route instead, as these opportunities are areas the company has no experience: “We may know the environments,” she explained, “But we don’t know the infrastructure and don’t have people on the ground.

“We want to work with master franchises rather than individuals,” said Davis, “As we’re not set up to deal with individual franchisees. We’re looking for strong partners that are well capitalised and have good real estate experience.”

Davis said Pure believes its model is well-differentiated, saying: “Anyone can build a gym – wherever you go around the world, the physical proposition is similar – maybe different wall covering or different kinds of equipment – however, it’s the things you overlay that really move you up a level in terms of success.

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“This includes things such as the technology-led operating model and the ability to manage and optimise revenue and yield, which gives a good return on capital and high margins and ratios.”

She said that pre-COVID, Pure had a roadmap to get 500 clubs open in the UK and to expand globally through acquisition and franchising.

Pure was on-track with this earlier in the year, having acquired Fitness World in January to kick off its international ambitions, before the pandemic struck.

She addressed the issue of the company not currently having an income stream, due to closures, saying: “ One might say, having a no-contract gym business is not the best thing right now, but we believe the market will come back and come back even stronger for our low-cost offering, due to the increased focus on fitness and health.”

Davis said Pure has a team of 50 in-house developers working on its website and app and that the app already has features built in to indicate the number of people using the gym at any one time. This means once the clubs re-open, consumers will be more confident to use them, as they can see the number of people working out via their app before deciding to attend.

She predicted people will also use the gyms more at off-peak times coming out of lockdown, ‘flattening the curve’ of peak time usage, and optimising Pure Gym’s long opening hours.

By Liz Terry

Source: Leisure Opportunities

Burger King reopens its drive-thru (But it’s only accepting contactless)

May 7, 2020

Swindon’s only Burger King restaurant has reopened its drive-thru facility to customers.

The Queens Drive unit will be open from midday to 10pm and is still serving from the limited menu that is available for delivery.

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But people looking to get their burger fix will have to make sure they have a contactless card or options on their smartphone as the store will not be accepting any cash payments.

Famous for its Whopper burger, the franchise reopened for delivery on April 16 but with fewer options on its menu.

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This includes the Whopper meal and the Bacon Double Cheese XL.

The recently unveiled vegetarian burger is not on the menu.

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Rival burger chain McDonald’s also announced yesterday that it will start reopening across the UK but there was no news on when any of Swindon’s restaurants might do so.

By Connor Mountford

Source: Swindon Advertiser