Bestway Retail poised to leverage key demographic mapping data

November 17, 2019

Bestway Retail has completed its UK-wide demographic mapping exercise, allowing its franchise and symbol group retailers to leverage key insights into which ranges, promotions and operational models offer the best fit for specific postcode locations.

Chief retail officer Andy Cresswell told C-Store the group was now “looking ahead,” and had “refocused the business” following the turmoil related to the collapse of Conviviality and Bestway’s subsequent acquisition of its retail brands.

 
The mapping process, undertaken over the last six months with data specialist CACI, had taken a “huge amount of resource and time” but its culmination had helped the business to take up a “fighting position; something which is key in the industry today because it’s tough out there,” he said.

“It’s given us real clarity on a significant range of factors, including who the local competition is and key details about the customer demographic, allowing us to model precisely which formats would be the most successful for that specific location.

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“It’s a huge opportunity as we can now have a much better conversation with retailers about picking the right operating model for them.”

The development was likely to result in some switching between store formats in a bid to ensure that they were best suited to their unique locations, Cresswell added. The “plentiful” data would also enable Bestway to focus promotions and special offers much better to local areas and to send specific limited stock promotions to exactly the right stores.

Cresswell confirmed that the next stage of the process was a review of all the company’s retail brands, where the group now has a model for all types of customer from retail club, symbol (Best-one), franchise (Bargain Booze) and specialist (Wine Rack). However, he maintained, “we won’t be refitting hundreds of stores in the next few months, this is a long-term project”.

“Some will be better suited to a Bargain Booze format, while others may have a significant opportunity for growth under a more specialist drinks led format such as Wine Rack. Likewise, there are convenience-led fascias for others where we have an opportunity to be the primary top-up store for that location,” he added.

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Franchisee confidence in the business was also improving, Cresswell claimed. “From a franchise perspective, confidence is everything. Last year we lost a lot of (Bargain Booze) franchisees but this year we are now back at what I would call normal attritional levels, and have opened a few new sites with franchisees” Creswell added.

The180-strong company-owned store estate, 105 of which are the formerly P&H-owned Central Convenience Stores, will also benefit from the completed data project, and the outlets will be increasingly used to trial activity such as new forms of promotions and customer communication.

“Our focus on our company owned store estate has been ramped up, including the appointment of a new regional operations manager for the south where the Central Convenience Stores estate is concentrated,” Creswell added.

By Gaelle Walker

Source: Convenience Store

Mothercare goes into administration putting thousands of UK jobs at risk

November 6, 2019

MOTHERCARE is expected to plunge into administration within the next 48 hours putting 2,500 jobs and 79 stores in the UK at risk.

The loss-making baby and maternity-wear seller, which was founded in 1961, has today revealed plans to line-up administrators after failing to turn around poor performance.

 
Mothercare’s stores and website are trading as usual for now, but once appointed, administrators will decide whether or not to axe shops and jobs while they either search for a buyer or wind the company down.

Shoppers with gift cards should consider spending them while they still can, while those planning to return items should also do so sooner rather than later.

It’s unclear what will happen to those with credit agreements but you’ll likely have to continue making repayments even if the firm goes into administration.

The Mothercare Group has more than 1,000 stores internationally in over 40 countries, but it’s been trying to sell the UK business for some time now.

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Last year, Mothercare carried out what’s known as a “Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA)” that saw it close 58 of its then 137 shops in the UK.

A small proportion of the closing stores came from Mothercare’s Childrens World division, which went into administration.

These closures were completed by March this year, and the business has been shutting other outlets over the past 12 months too.

Now, there are just 79 stores remaining with the group employing 500 full-time staff in the UK and 2,000 part-time workers.

Accountancy firm KPMG had been brought in to look at all the options available to the Mothercare Group.

But Mothercare has now revealed its intention to appoint administrators.

In a statement Mothercare said: “Since May 2018, we have undertaken a root and branch review of the Group and Mothercare UK within it, including a number of discussions over the summer with potential partners regarding our UK Retail business.

“Through this process, it has become clear that the UK Retail operations of the Group, which today includes 79 stores, are not capable of returning to a level of structural profitability and returns that are sustainable for the Group as it currently stands and/or attractive enough for a third party partner to operate on an arm’s length basis.

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“Furthermore, the Company is unable to continue to satisfy the ongoing cash needs of Mothercare UK.

“These notices of intent to appoint administrators in respect of Mothercare UK and MBS are a necessary step in the restructuring and refinancing of the Group.”

Just a few months ago in March 2019, Mothercare sold its Early Learning Centre business to The Entertainer for £13.5million.

Despite this, the retailer has continued to struggle in the UK.

In the year to March 2019, the retailer recorded a loss before tax of £87.3million.

Internationally, the retailer is much more successful and turned a profit of £28.3million in the same period.

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at comparison site Money.co.uk, said: “It’s undoubtedly distressing news for employees of Mothercare and their families especially so close to Christmas.

“Now is the time to check what redundancy rights you have and dig out any income or mortgage protection policies you hold just in case.”

Worried staff can contact the Money Advice Service for free on 0800 138 7777.

Back in April, Debenhams fell into administration with 50 stores to close after Mike Ashley’s rescue plan failed.

And in July, struggling shoe shop Office said it “could close branches as part of restructuring plans”.

Meanwhile, last month, the owner of hairdressing chain Supercuts went into administration putting 1,200 jobs at risk.

By Jacob Dirnhuber

Source: The Sun

First Nisa Partner Opens Co-op Franchise Store

October 30, 2019

The Co-op yesterday opened its first franchise store with a Nisa partner following the launch of its franchising scheme earlier this year.

 
The store, located in the Brunel Shopping Centre, Somerton, previously traded under the name Williams. It has now reopened under Co-op brand following a £600,000 investment that saw the introduction of an in-store bakery, coffee dispenser and hot food, alongside an extensive range of fresh and locally sourced goods.

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The Somerton store is the eighth Co-op franchise store to open following the society’s decision to licence its brand to independent retailers for the first time in order to accelerate its expansion in the convenience sector. The first seven Co-op franchise stores are said to have seen sales growth in excess of 50% following conversion.

Richard Williams, the Co-op Somerton store owner, commented: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to carry out such a significant investment in Somerton. Our ambition is to ensure that our store remains a local hub and a real asset for the community.”

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Martin Rogers, Head of New Channels at the Co-op, added: “We’re looking for the right retailers in the right locations to share in our success and we are delighted that Richard has come on board as our first Nisa partner franchise.

“Richard’s store is the perfect example of where we can join forces with a well-established, community store, retain the catchment of the retailer whilst offering its shoppers Co-op quality and value products.”

Source: KamCity

First look inside Stockton Heath’s newest shop

October 29, 2019

THE newest shop on the high street in Stockton Heath opens on Saturday. Kitchen retailer Kutchenhaus opens its first Warrington store on London Road.

Boasting 1,100 square foot of retail space, the Warrington store will employ two staff in customer services and kitchen design. The shop will be managed by Chris Smith, who has worked with Kutchenhaus product for more than 11 years. Most recently he worked at the head office, growing the franchise network from nine stores to 25.

 
Rob Greenhalgh, who co-owns the Warrington business with Chris, comes from a kitchen installation background with over 20 years’ experience fitting. Rob said:“The team is incredibly excited to be opening the new store in Warrington, our friendly team is looking forward to welcoming the community to the official launch on Saturday.

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“It has taken one month to completely transform the space to Kutchenhaus’ high-quality standards. We are looking forward to meeting shoppers and introducing them to Kutchenhaus. We believe the people of the surrounding area deserve access to German engineered kitchens at a really affordable price.”

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 opening of our first store in Warrington.

“We are very excited to be part of the new showroom opening in Warrington, a community we believe is a perfect destination for a Kutchenhaus store due to its central location and access to major motorways. The new store will no doubt offer an engaging store environment and deliver a high-quality product, a market opportunity which we know is currently in high demand. We wish Chris and the team all the best and wait to see their future success.”

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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 32 showrooms across the UK.

By Gareth Dunning

Source: Warrington Guardian

Costcutter unveils Co-op franchise package

October 19, 2019

Costcutter Supermarkets Group has officially launched its offer to independent retailers interested in taking on a Co-op franchise.

The package, which operates exclusively through Costcutter for retailers with 10 stores or fewer, was unveiled at the National Franchise Exhibition in Birmingham earlier this month (October).

 
Seven franchises are already up and running through the agreement, including three company-owned stores, and Costcutter says the outlets are seeing sales growth of more than 50%.

Benefits for retailers include the creation of a store layout plan, category space allocation and range tailored to their store’s catchment area.

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They also get ongoing support and training in how to implement staff training, store processes and retail routines.

Stores need to have weekly sales of £20,000, excluding VAT and services such as Lotto, Paypoint and Post Office. They also need a sales area of more than 2,000sq ft and back-of-house space of more than 800sq ft.

Martin Rogers, head of new channels at the Co-op, said: “This is a significant milestone in our franchise ambition and we’re looking for the right retailers in the right locations to share in our success and help widen the reach of Co-op products. We now have the capability to deliver franchising at scale.”

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Southern Co-op already runs a similar franchise operation, but these stores operate under the Welcome fascia rather than Co-op.

Costcutter’s exclusivity does not extend to university student unions or existing Nisa retailers interested in a Co-op franchise. They would need to go direct to the Co-op.

By David Shrimpton

Source: Talking Retail

Goodbody Wellness’ third store ‘proof-of-concept’

October 7, 2019

A leading UK quoted wellness and medicinal cannabis company, Sativa Group, has completed its initial phase of its Goodbody CBD Wellness store chain, by opening its third outlet in Clifton, Bristol, as ‘proof-of-concept’, and is now actively seeking franchisees to participate in its national franchise plan.

The new store in the ‘Clifton Triangle’, which the company describes as a thriving and vibrant primary retail destination, stocks a range of more than 50 CBD (cannabidiol) products and along with its outlets in Bath and Cirencester, it has a tasting bar for customers to sample CBD products and enjoy a cup of high quality CBD infused coffee.

 
CBD is a natural occurring extract derived from the Hemp plant, which is used as a natural alternative for those wanting to support their health and wellbeing in a completely natural way.

Goodbody Wellness said that the consumer experience consists of focused knowledge and support from highly trained staff that can advise customers about its range of products and the best way to use and apply the products.

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The CBD enriched items for sale include skincare, tinctures, balms, bath bombs, vape oils, body oils and capsules. The company adds that CBD is believed to boost the body’s endocannabinoid system that works to restore homeostasis and balance.

Chris Jones, managing director of Goodbody Wellness, said: “It was a great launch weekend with customer feedback echoing the sentiments given about the first two stores. The customers really appreciate a prestige high-street brand which they can trust. It’s all about traceability, product testing, and balance.

“A welcome surprise was that the store opened for business a day early. We hadn’t even switched on the digital display boards and customers were knocking on the door. That gave the team an early chance to put their extensive training in to practice.”

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Henry Lees-Buckley, chief executive of Sativa, said: “Goodbody has achieved this significant milestone in just eight months. It’s an important third CBD trading business to the group alongside George Botanicals and our direct CBD marketing channel, and a fellow group subsidiary to PhytoVista Laboratories.

“We expect to soon add the licenced growing of medicinal cannabis, once necessary approvals are in place, for research and development purposes through our collaboration agreement with Kings College London, which is looking at the potential benefits that medicinal cannabis might have on respiratory diseases.”

To introduce franchisees to its model, the company has a full-scale replica of a store at its Somerset headquarters alongside its bespoke training facility, and as its trading stores are within an hour’s drive, potential franchisees can experience the concept and witness trading first-hand.

Source: Franchise World

Easy Living Mobility flies in the face of high street doom & gloom with new store opening in Hanley

October 4, 2019

Bucking the trend of recent research revealing the struggles of high street retailers across the UK, Easy Living Mobility has launched a new high street store in Hanley, Staffordshire.

Located only a stone’s throw away from its Roebuck Shopping Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme, the new group-owned store brings the expanding retailer’s store portfolio tally to 12, having recently opened its first franchise-owned store in Wolverhampton’s Wulfrun Centre this June.

 
Established in 2001 by owner Daniel Griffiths, Easy Living Mobility now employs 32 staff and has an expanding presence in the West Midlands. In February 2019, the mobility retailer launched its franchise scheme, declaring its intention to become the UK’s leading national retailer.

Boasting a 2,000sqft showroom showcasing a wide array of mobility products, the launch of its new store comes as the high street continues to see a number of retailers struggling amidst rising costs and falling footfall.

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In August, the British Retail Consortium called on the Government to freeze business rates for town centre businesses as vacant retail spaces in the former shopping hubs hit their highest level since January 2015 in July 2019, alongside the worst decline in footfall for July since 2012.

In addition, research by Local Data Company (LDC) and PwC in September showed that the first half of 2019 saw the highest number of high street closures since analysis began back in 2010.

Undeterred by the gloomy high street forecasts however, Daniel suggests that by listening to customer needs and adapting stores accordingly, retailers can continue to enjoy success on the high street.

“We may all operate within the same group and share the same business principles; however, each Easy Living Mobility store has a different strategy. Over the past 15+ years all my store teams have embedded themselves in the community with outreach that gives us a true understanding of what people need in each region,” he explains.

“Culture, activities, terrain, lifestyles… all can vary even across a single region such as the Midlands and over time. This is why we continually tailor our services and product range accordingly so that independence is maximised for all with restricted mobility. By continually listening to ever-changing local needs, we have been able to stay ahead of the curve and beat the downward high street trend.”

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Discussing how this idea of tailoring the offer for a specific store location works, Daniel continues: “For example, the type of mobility scooter that’s popular will vary between areas so our provision of TGA product varies. We find more rural locations in the west drive demand for scooters with strong off-road capabilities, such as the Breeze S4. Whereas more built-up areas can dictate a need for smaller scooters particularly the folding Minimo.

“Dudley, for example, is hilly so customers seek a combination of both product types along with TGA powerpacks for wheelchairs. Wherever our store is located the reliability and long-term value of scooters do not vary – this is why TGA is our flagship brand.”

To adapt the store offering to meet the needs of local customers requires an in-depth understanding of the community, however, points of Daniel.

“To be successful you must consider your customer base through-and-through – this is what we do. Get it exactly right and you know what customers will ask for before they come through the door,” he finishes.

“My business is all about dialling-in to what customers require. This is why we organise coffee mornings or visit care homes to talk to people struggling to remain mobile. Easy Living is not just about selling, it is far more than that, we believe in giving back to the community with impartial advice for easier living. Our new team at Hanley are already planning how to help the community by signposting towards solutions for greater social inclusion. Exciting times for locals and us.”

By Calvin Barnett

Source: Thiis

Mothercare Ireland is revamping its online store as footfall shrinks

October 2, 2019

NURSERY AND CHILDCARE retailer Mothercare Ireland is preparing a major revamp of its e-commerce offering as it grapples with declining footfall in physical stores.

The Irish franchise, which operates separately to the UK business, will roll out a new-look website in 2020 and is investing hundreds of thousands of euro to improve how its back-end systems manage stock.

 
Speaking to Fora, Mothercare Ireland’s commercial director, Ben Ward – whose father established the franchise here in 1992 – said this will give the retailer the scope to provide a better online experience and introduce new services.

“We’ve had the same basic proposition as a front-end for the last six or seven years. It’s very much a Band-Aid solution at this stage,” Ward said.

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As well as providing an easier-to-navigate website, the company will launch additional services for customers including a reserve-and-collect option, in addition to its existing click-and-collect service and installed payment plans via Adyen-Klarna.

“It’s removing barriers where people might not have purchased from us online and I think it’s us offering as good a proposition as we can,” Ward said.

The revamp will be completed by the end of January 2020 when the new year sales have ended.

Retail parks

Mothercare, which sells a range of products including clothing, toys and nursery furniture across 14 locations, has recorded a 6% decline in annual footfall. Ward said there is still value in running bricks-and-mortar outlets.

“You need them because people still like to come in and get advice, they still like to come in and touch and feel the product. For a lot parents, all these hundreds of new products, you’re looking at them for the first time,” he said, noting that the Irish franchise has provided in-store demos and personal shopping services for several years.

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Due to the changing retail landscape, Mothercare is looking to migrate from city-centre locations and into out-of-town retail parks.

Earlier this year, it opened a 6,000 sq ft store in Galway’s Wellpark Retail Park after closing its Eyre Square Shopping Centre branch.

“Retail parks is the best format for us in terms of parking for the customer and being able to arrange everything under one roof as opposed to city-centre locations,” Ward said.

Though there are no new leases being actively negotiated, Mothercare Ireland is open to new locations “providing the demographics and the commercials are right”.

BY CONOR MCMAHON

Source: Fora

Co-op and NUS agree exclusive retail franchise partnership

September 22, 2019

The Co-op has become the exclusive retail grocery store franchise partner for the National Union of Students (NUS) as part of a deal which could see it serving seven million students over the next five years, as more Co-op franchise stores open on NUS member campuses.

The expansion programme aims to create a significant number of new Co-op branded stores under its new franchise offering, as part of its plans to open 100 new stores in 2019.

 
The new stores will be run and managed independently by individual NUS members and will give access to a tailored range of 2,500 Co-op own brand products, with a wide range of fair trade, free-from and vegan options.

Co-op head of new channels Martin Rogers said: “We are delighted to partner with a like-minded organisation, like NUS, and to support the health, wellbeing and employment of students.

“Young people are hugely important for us and we look forward to working closely with NUS members and serving campus communities up and down the UK.

“We’ve a strong track-record in delivering for our customers and we know that when we work together to achieve a common purpose, great things can happen.

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“This is a pioneering opportunity to grow our brand, share our values, and get our products into the hands of the next generation of customers and members.”

NUS vice president of union development Erica Ramos added: “This new agreement with the Co-op builds on our existing relationship and the shared values that sit at the heart of the Co-op, NUS and students’ unions and associations across the UK.

“I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to strike this agreement with one of our long-standing partners and look forward to seeing these new franchises taken up by our members.”

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The Co-op has so far opened seven franchise stores, with four based at universities, including Leeds (pictured) and Newcastle.

With a Co-op Membership card, students also get 5% back on purchases of Co-op products and services and TOTUM cardholders get an additional 10% off their shop.

By Gaelle Walker

Source: Convenience Store

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