Co-op to open franchise store on Newcastle University campus

August 16, 2019

Newcastle University Student Union has joined forces with the Co-op in a move which will see the retailer’s first franchise store open in the North East later this year.

The agreement will see the existing students’ union store extended and transformed with a fresh new-look in time for Fresher’s this September.

The new-look store will be managed and run by Newcastle University Students’ Union, providing employment opportunities for students.

The new 2,500sq ft store will offer Co-op’s full range of fresh, healthy foods, extended vegan and free-from offerings and a wide range of Fairtrade products.

Compostable carriers are available for customers who forget their bag-for-life. The not-for-profit bags – priced at 5p – offer an environmentally friendly alternative to the single-use plastic bags they replace. The store also includes a free refill tap for water.

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A funding boost for local causes is also on the cards through the Co-op’s Membership scheme. Members receive a 5% reward when buying own-brand products, with the Co-op donating a further 1% to causes in the area.

Graham Hattam, Newcastle University Students’ Union director of commercial, said: “We are excited to announce the introduction of a Co-op store into our Students’ Union and bring the first franchise store in the North East to our very own campus. This initiative supports our focus on providing healthy, affordable, fresh food and drink for students on campus, and complements our overarching objectives around enhancing the student experience. NUSU has been awarded ‘Students’ Union of the Year’ for the last two years consecutively, and a huge part of this success has been driven through delivering these types of initiatives which directly address the wants and needs of our students“.

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Martin Rogers, Co-op’s head of new channels, said: “This is an important development for Co-op. Our Franchise stores provide an exciting opportunity to grow our brand and create value for our partners and communities. At the heart of the Co-op it is about connecting communities, bringing people together and making a difference. In line with other work we are doing with Students’ Unions across the country Newcastle Union is a natural progression, with the new store having the choice, ease and convenience tailored to serve campus needs. We look forward to working closely with Newcastle Students Union and serving the campus community.”

The latest Co-op franchise store to open was on Kent University campus last month, which followed the opening of a franchise store on Leeds University Campus earlier this year (February).

By Fiona Briggs

Source: Retail Times

Chichester store celebrates best trading period yet

August 16, 2019

A Chichester kitchen retailer is celebrating after its best 12 month trading period yet. Kitchen retailer, Kutchenhaus said it is ‘defying the ongoing pressures on bricks and mortar retailers’ on the high street, and reported 50 per cent growth in year-on-year revenue.

The store, which serves customers across an approximate 40-mile radius catchment area, is managed by franchisee owners Andy Barwell and Paul Turner, who have operated the business since September 2017.

 
Andy, co-owner of Kutchenhaus in Chichester, commented: “The last 12 month has been the best trading period for us, across both our main Chichester store, and our second store in Romsey.

“Between Paul and I, we have experience of more than 20 combined years in the industry and can offer a bespoke design service to our customers. We were already familiar with the Kutchenhaus product and the reps from selling in our previous roles, which drew us to the brand, and Kutchenhaus have given us the support and resources we needed to make the store a success.

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“Due to the revenue growth, we are considering the possibility of expanding and opening more stores, as well as hiring additional staff for our current stores.

“We have just recruited an area support manager to help with installations and ensure the customers receive consistent levels of great service. The Kutchenhaus store in Chichester boasts 2,100 square foot of retail space and four staff are employed across customer services and kitchen design.”

The company growth is primarily down to the quality of the in store customer experience the German designed and manufactured kitchens that Kutchenhaus is famous for and the increased consumer demand for affordable quality. The business is now forecasting a 12-month revenue growth target of another 50% as it looks to build further on its success.

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Sean Ford, national head of sales and operations for Kutchenhaus, said: “Kutchenhaus is on an ambitious growth path over the next two to three years, so it’s fantastic to see the progress Andy, Paul and the team are making at our Chichester business.

“There’s no doubt trading conditions are tough for many bricks and mortar retailers and the home improvement market is extremely competitive, but we find that our franchise owners are bucking the trend by creating an engaging store environment and delivering a high-quality end product.”

Established in 2004, Kutchenhaus is a franchise business owned by Europe’s largest kitchen manufacturer, Nobilia. Customers can both buy online at www.kutchenhaus.co.uk or one of its 28 showrooms across the UK. Potential franchisee partners interested in finding out more, can access further business information at www.kutchenhaus.co.uk/franchise/.

By Joe Stack

Source: Chichester

Mothercare kicks off talks to offload struggling UK arm

July 27, 2019

Mothercare is in talks to sell or separate its UK store operations months after striking a deal with creditors that secured the struggling retailer’s survival.

Sky News has learnt that Mothercare has kicked off negotiations with ‎third parties about a sale or franchising agreement for its British shops.

 
The intention to pursue some form of transaction is expected to be confirmed in a trading update scheduled for Friday morning, sources said.

If completed, a deal would mark a watershed for the UK’s best-known maternity and baby goods chain, which has been struggling to improve its fortunes in a brutal high street environment.

Mothercare traces its roots to its first store in Surrey, which opened in 1961.

Insiders said on Thursday evening that a deal to offload Mothercare’s remaining 79 UK stores, which represent the only national franchise now owned by the company, was not guaranteed.

The trading update will come as the company also secures the support of its lenders to waive covenant tests and defer a number of debt repayment milestones agreed as part of an earlier refinancing.

That consent from Barclays and HSBC is also expected to be confirmed in Friday’s stock exchange announcement.

Mothercare has been steadily transforming itself into an international franchising group, and now trades from roughly 1,000 stores in about 50 countries.

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Last year, it was forced to turn to creditors for support through a process called a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

That mechanism resulted in the closure of 55 UK shops‎, and has since been followed by the £13.5m sale of the Early Learning Centre, the disposal of its head office and hundreds of job losses.

Mothercare raised £32.5m from investors last year from the sale of new shares, but now has a market value of less than £68m.

To add to the turmoil facing the company, it took the extraordinary step last year of ousting its highly regarded chief executive, Mark Newton-Jones, only to reinstate him less than six weeks later.

The identity of the parties with whom Mothercare is discussing the future of its UK business was unclear on Thursday evening.

Retail insiders said the process was being run by bankers at Numis Securities.

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Clive Whiley, Mothercare’s executive chairman, and Mr Newton-Jones are said to be open to exploring “all options” to maximise value for shareholders.

That could involve an outright sale of the UK business to a turnaround investor or an agreement with a third-party retailer or franchisee to ‎take on the estate.

Mothercare is far from alone in having been forced into radical steps to slash its store portfolio.

Virtually every name on the high street is implementing a restructuring plan of some kind as the shift towards digital channels and growing costs associated with physical stores inflict pain across the sector.

Most notably this year, Debenhams has been through a pre-pack administration, while Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which owns brands such as Topshop, only narrowly averted insolvency after a recent creditor vote.

In Debenhams’ case, lenders have just been asked for another £50m to help see the department store chain through to the crucial Christmas trading period.

Without a solution to take the financial burden of the struggling UK business ‎off its hands, Mothercare may have no alternative but to put it through another formal restructuring process.

Shares in the company closed on Thursday at 19.25p.

Mothercare declined to comment.

By Mark Kleinman, City editor

Source: Sky News

New life for Swindon’s Bathstore franchise

July 25, 2019

Swindon’s Bathstore has declared independence.

Following the collapse of Bathstore last month, Swindon’s franchise seemed to be doomed to close.

 
However, director Nick Butcher is hoping to breathe new life into the store in the coming months.

Nick said: “At the moment we’re in negotiations to take the lease over from Bathstore.

“We’re currently in the transformation process from Bathstore to Panoramic Bathrooms.

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“So, we’re selling off the displays and all the old stock before getting our new stuff in and opening up again.

“Luckily we’ve managed to save the three staff that work here and re-open as a fully independent store.”

Panoramic Bathrooms doesn’t have an opening date, but Nick is hopeful it won’t be much longer.

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On the national side, Homebase have recently bought the rights to the Bathstore website and 44 of the stores, saving around 175 jobs, but still leaving over 200 in the balance.

Source: Swindon Advertiser

Site reopens in Lancing with Welcome franchise store

July 17, 2019

A new Welcome franchise store opened on 10 July in Manor Road, Lancing, West Sussex.

The site has been redeveloped and extended during a six-month refurbishment with a new forecourt, tanks and pumps.

 
The new BP-branded forecourt features eight fuel pumps, jet wash and air and vacuum machines.

The Welcome store features a Costa, Co-op fresh food bakery, hot food, and Gourmade – a specialist frozen food range made nearby in Chichester.

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Owner and developer Subu Nanthakumar bought the freehold of the site, which originally had an Esso-branded filling station.

He said: “It has been a long six months but very rewarding to now have a local shop and garage providing local amenities and services within the local community.”

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The site is Southern Co-op’s eighth new Welcome franchise in 2019 across both single and multiple store operators. The independent co-operative operates across the south of England and gives franchisees access to major brands and Co-op own-label products.

By John Wood 

Source: Forecourt Trader

Hotel Chocolat to set up shop in Bishop’s Stortford

July 15, 2019

Hotel Chocolat is on its way to Bishop’s Stortford with a new store in Jackson Square.

The British chocolatier and cocoa grower, with over 80 shops in the UK, is hoping for a sweet future in the former Scott Sports premises.

 
The Intersport franchise shut at close of play on Saturday June 22. While the arrival of Hotel Chocolat is not imminent, Jackson Square manager Michael Smith confirmed plans were in place for later in the year.

He said: “We’re always excited to be able to share news of all our forthcoming openings with our community and we’re pleased to welcome Hotel Chocolat to the retail line-up at the centre.

“It’s great to hear that Bishop’s Stortford is being recognised by such a great brand as this will only continue to improve the offer we have available in the town.”

Hotel Chocolat began as an early internet retailer in 1993, founded by entrepreneurs Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris with originality, authenticity and ethics as the company’s founding principles.

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In 1998, they created The Chocolate Tasting Club, sending sweet selections to subscribers each month, before opening the first-ever Hotel Chocolat shop in north London in 2004.

Their dream of becoming cocoa farmers was realised in 2006 when they bought the 250-year-old Rabot Estate in St Lucia.

Since then they have diversified with a cafe in London’s Borough Market, luxury hotel, restaurant and spa Boucan in St Lucia and the Rabot 1745 restaurant in London.

The brand, which was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2016, also includes The School of Chocolate at Cocoa Vaults in Covent Garden, a cookbook called A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate and a mobile phone text gifting service.

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This year it featured in a two-part Channel 5 TV documentary called Chocolate Dreams – Inside Hotel Chocolat.

The chain’s arrival is part of Jackson Square’s latest upgrade. The precinct, first developed in 1972 and extended in 2007, underwent a £5.5m revamp in 2017 to provide a total of 44 units.

By Sinead Corr

Source: Bishop’s Stortford Independent

Hard worker Craig Bishop from Portland ‘living the dream’ with franchise

July 10, 2019

Snap-on Frananchise UK. A man “living the dream” of running his own business has won a national award for young people.

Craig Bishop, 32, from Portland, bought into the tool supply franchise Snap-on two years ago and has already seen it ranked seventh in the country.

 
He started the franchise with little experience of the tool trade or running a business, but says he worked hard and focused on providing the best customer service he could.

He won the Young Male Franchisee of the Year title in the British Franchise Association HSBC Franchise Awards.

Mr Bishop, who runs his franchise across North Dorset, beat hundreds of other entrants to the award.

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He said: “Winning Young Male Franchisee of the Year is very surreal and I am honoured to have won. I know that the competition was tough so to even be nominated was a massive honour.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my franchise journey, and I look forward to carry on living my dream of running my own business.”

He added: “I have a real drive and determination to do well in life and have always put 100 per cent into everything I do.

“It didn’t ever really matter that I didn’t know a lot about the tool range – I use the training I was given and follow the system and, most importantly, I work hard to fulfil my customers’ needs.

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“This approach has got me far, but my success hasn’t been without hard work. I’m very proud to have been recognised – winning this award is a real highlight of my career and I’m proud to celebrate with the Snap-on team.”

The awards are decided by a panel of specialist judges, who consider hundreds of entries from businesses spanning all industries and sectors. Winners were announced at a black tie awards ceremony at the Vox in Birmingham.

Craig attended with his girlfriend Amy – who supports him in running the business – and the Snap-on franchise team.

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Pip Wilkins, chief executive of the British Franchise Association – who presented Craig with his award – said: “Young franchisees are the lifeblood of the industry. Craig showed exceptional business acumen and has clearly defined goals for his business, and he is hungry for more. I congratulate him for his win.”

Andy Brattesani, UK head of franchising at HSBC, said: “Craig is a determined individual with a vision, and it is pleasing the industry is allowing more young individuals like Craig to enter the world of franchising and achieve their dreams.”

By Sam Beamish

Source: Dorset Echo

Sheffield Store Owner Made Up With National Bed Store Accolade

June 21, 2019

United Carpets, a Sheffield carpet and bed retailer, is celebrating success having been awarded a national network award.

Lisa Beaumont, owner of the United Carpets and Beds store on Queens Road, won Franchise Bed Store of the Year at the United Carpets and Beds annual network conference in Marbella this spring.

The conference, which brings together the national brand’s 60 stores, head office staff and suppliers, allows the network to learn business updates, meet new colleagues and learn about upcoming interiors trends and products.

Lisa, who has owned the store since January 2007, said: “We’re very proud to have won Franchise Bed Store of the Year at this year’s United Carpets and Beds conference. Our extensive bed department has something for everyone including beds with storage options, children’s beds and sofa beds – customers can also view our full range in-store via our digital catalogue.

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The Franchise Bed Store of the Year accolade was one of four awards announced at the retailer event, with other store owners and managers picking up Franchisee of the Year, Corporate Bed Store of the Year and Corporate Store of the Year.

“The annual conference is a great time to catch up with the rest of the network; although there are 60 stores, there is a real family atmosphere in celebrating each other’s successes,” added Lisa.

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The Queens Road retailer specialises in flooring options including carpet, laminate, vinyl, LVT (luxury vinyl tiles) and beds and mattresses, offering brands such as Silentnight, Sealy and Rest Assured.

Will Hickman, marketing manager for United Carpets and Beds which is headquartered in Rotherham, said: “Lisa and her team are known for their high customer service level and their efforts with their bed department in the last year, in particularly competitive climates, deserve to be rewarded.

“We know our network of franchise and corporate stores works incredibly hard so we’re delighted to reward them at the annual conference.”

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United Carpets Group plc is the UK’s largest franchised carpet and bed retailer with 60 stores across England and Wales. The business, which sells online and via the high street, was launched in 1997 and was family owned until 2005.

Source: Business UpNorth

Reliance takes over UK toy store Hamleys

June 13, 2019

The deal team that worked on Reliance Brands’ acquisition of iconic British toy maker Hamleys had to carry out due diligence in multiple jurisdictions the company was present to make the deal go through.

“This was a truly cross-border deal with an Indian purchaser, Chinese seller (listed in Hong Kong and incorporated in Bermuda) and an English target business with an international franchise model,” said Slaughter & May corporate partner Nilufer von Bismarck. The firm advised Reliance on the English law aspects of the acquisition covering areas such as real estate, intellectual property, competition, tax, employment and corporate law.

“This was a multi-jurisdictional deal with the target having operations and franchise relationships in several countries,” Khaitan & Co partner Rahul Dutt, who advised Reliance on Indian law aspects, told India Business Law Journal. “[The acquisition] involved due diligence of the intellectual property rights, real estate, contractual relationships of the target, as well as compliances in such countries. Structuring the acquisition and tax advice also played a vital role.”

Hamleys has a presence in 18 countries through 167 stores. Hong Kong-listed conglomerate C Banner International, which owns Hamleys, sold 100% of the shares to Reliance for US$84 million in an all-cash deal. The acquisition is expected to complete later this year.

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“While we might remember synchronizing the different time zones as the most difficult aspect of the process, we were also required, as lead transaction counsel, to ensure that the differing legal and cultural expectations of an English law transaction were properly managed,” said Bismarck.

Besides Bismarck, the Slaughter & May team included partners Sara Luder, Cathy Connolly, Phil Linnard, Jane Edwarde and Claire Jeffs.

Khaitan & Co’s role involved reviewing, preparing, negotiating and assisting the client in finalization of transaction documents. The firm was also represented on the deal by partner Akshay Bhargav, principal associate Vinita Choudhury, senior associate Shreya Dua and associate Krishna Shah.

“Besides discussions with the counterparty and their advisors to bring the deal to fruition, the management discussions were particularly stimulating not only on the deal aspects but in relation to managing global operations post-closing,” said Khaitan’s Bhargav.

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Both firms also took note of the prestige associated with Hamleys. “Interest was certainly piqued by the target being everyone’s favourite toy store,” said Bismarck. “It’s no secret that the British high street is going through a period of uncertainty at the moment, so it was rewarding to help Reliance to navigate this challenging environment.”

Hamleys was founded in 1760 and is the world’s oldest toy store. Reliance has the master franchise for Hamleys in India and operates 88 stores in 29 cities. Reliance Brands is the private equity firm of Reliance Retail and Reliance Industries

Source: Vantage Asia

Double Win For Lincoln Carpet And Bed Retailer

June 6, 2019

United Carpets Franchise UK. A Lincoln carpet and bed retailer is celebrating success having been awarded two national network awards.

Jon Morris, manager of the United Carpets and Beds store on Deacon Road, won Corporate Bed Store of the Year and Corporate Store of the Year at the United Carpets and Beds annual network conference in Marbella this spring.

The conference, which brings together the national brand’s 60 stores, head office staff and suppliers, allows the network to learn business updates, meet new colleagues and learn about upcoming interiors trends and products.

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Jon said: “We are absolutely delighted to win two awards at the annual United Carpets and Beds conference. It’s always a great chance to catch up with everyone as we’re a such close-knit family of stores, despite being all over the country!

“Our bed department has grown hugely in the last couple of years and customers appreciate being able to browse through our digital catalogue while in-store. I’m so proud of the team for our two wins; we’re all focused on offering the best customer service from the moment they walk into store to when they’re living with our products.”

The Lincoln retailer was one of three stores who won awards at the retailer event, with other store owners and managers picking up Franchisee of the Year and Franchise Bed Store of the Year.

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“We’re incredibly proud of our bed offering, alongside our flooring options. Our Ottoman beds have been especially popular as customers value the extra storage while our Julian Bowen range of novelty or space-saving children’s beds are well received by children and parents alike!” added Jon.

The Deacon Road retailer employs four people and specialises in flooring options including carpet, laminate, vinyl, LVT (luxury vinyl tiles) and beds and mattresses, offering brands such as Silentnight, Sealy and Rest Assured.

Will Hickman, marketing manager for United Carpets and Beds which is headquartered in Rotherham, said: “Jon and his team are known for their high customer service level and their efforts with their bed department in the last year, in particularly competitive climates, deserve to be rewarded.

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“We know our network of franchise and corporate stores works incredibly hard so we’re delighted to reward them at the annual conference.”

United Carpets Group plc is the UK’s largest franchised carpet and bed retailer with 60 stores across England and Wales. The business, which sells online and via the high street, was launched in 1997 and was family owned until 2005.

Source: Business Up North