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

Co-op sandwiches go on sale in Superdrug stores

May 31, 2019

The Co-op is supplying Superdrug stores with food-to-go products including sandwiches, salads and fruit under a new trial deal.

More than 40 Co-op own-label products are being supplied to Superdrug sites in East Midlands, Bristol and Edinburgh airports, and in Brighton, Sheffield, and London’s Victoria and Fenchurch Street railway stations.

The range includes Co-op’s best-selling chicken & bacon sandwich, salmon & prawn sushi, vegan onion bhaji wrap, an all-day breakfast sandwich and falafel tabbouleh salad. Shoppers will be able to add a Superdrug snack and drink to the Co-op ‘main’ food item in a meal deal.

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Co-op has been seeking new channels for its own-label products, including the agreement to supply 2,200 Costcutter supermarket group stores, a move into franchise stores and acquisition of Nisa last year.

“We are continually exploring new ways to bring our award-winning products closer to shoppers and reach new customers,” said Co-op Food trading director Matt Hood.

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“Becoming food-to-go partner for Superdrug is an exciting development as Co-op continues to grow its brand, further increasing the accessibility of own-brand products. These transport hubs provide an exciting and dynamic location to meet the shopping needs of busy consumers and offer our value and values conveniently.”

Many food-to-go operators are ramping up their presence in travel locations in reaction to changing consumer shopping habits, with Greggs last year opening its first site at a London Underground station.

The Co-op was named sandwich and food-to-go convenience retailer award for the fifth year running at the British Sandwich Association Sammies Awards last month.

By Vince Bamford

Source: Bakery Info

Mobility Scooters UK launches its new site on the South Coast

May 27, 2019

Baron Medical, which trades as Mobility Scooters UK, has opened a new shop in Ferndown, Dorset, on what it described as a ‘landmark site’.

The sizable store boasts plenty of floor and window space for displaying large products and high-ticket items.

The store, which is branded as The Mobility Shop, currently offers entry level and high-end class 2 and 3 scooters, rollators, wheelchairs and a number of living aids.

Mobility Scooters UK opened its first store on the South Coast in 2013 and initially sold only living aids.

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Baron Medical has since grown and now has a number of retail shops and a large online presence, offering a much larger range of products.

Mobility Scooters

The business started out of frustration caused by a lack of products available for a close family member with partial sight.

Mobility Scooters

Now the South Coast has a high concentration of mobility retail outfits making it one of the most competitive areas in the UK to be an equipment dealer.

Mobility Scooters

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Ableworld very recently launched a new franchise store in Christchurch while CareCo opened one in Southampton.


Source: Access and Mobility Professional

One Stop Franchise launches new website featuring retailer case studies

May 26, 2019

One Stop Franchise has launched its new website, believing it is easier to navigate, focusing more on its franchisees and ultimately is more helpful and informative to prospective retailers.

The retailer focused homepage includes a carousel of ads with linked retailer case studies focusing on the 5 key benefits of joining One Stop: more cash in your pocket, £50,000 store investment, 7 day a week support, market-leading promotions and time-saving technology, along with a ‘hero’ homepage video which highlights the benefits of franchise and why joining One Stop was the best decision they have made.

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The website also promotes the benefits associated with joining One Stop Franchise such as the power of a national brand, being a subsidiary of Tesco and our own label range, which consists of over 400 lines across fresh, chilled, meat and frozen to grocery, impulse and cake.

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A spokesperson for One Stop said that the re-design is aimed to make the site as helpful and informative as possible for prospective franchisees.

“With an easy-to-navigate layout, there is a wealth of information from downloadable documents such as time-saving technology and what is a Franchise, insights and interviews which include retailer case studies and a time-lapsed video of a £50,000 store refit to latest news articles.”

Related: One Stop Franchise

By Fiona Briggs

Source: Retail Times

A Tale of Convenience: What We Can Learn From The SPAR Success Story

May 25, 2019

SPAR franchise UK. If I was to ask any passer-by on the street the question “Which major brand has the biggest franchise network presence in the U.K?” I’d bet a significant amount of money that their answer would be one of the major fast-food giants. They might throw in a curveball and hazard a guess at one of the household assistance franchises such as a lawn care brand or perhaps a personal care franchise.

But no. The biggest franchise chain here in the U.K. is SPAR. It’s a convenience store franchise with over 2,400 franchises here in the U.K, dwarfing the likes of McDonald’s which has around 1,200 UK franchise units. Originally named DE SPAR, the SPAR network has nearly 13,000 stores worldwide, across around 48 countries.

What I personally love about the SPAR story is the origin of its name. DE SPAR is an acronym of the Dutch phrase “Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig”. In English that translates to “through united co-operation everyone regularly profits”. And actually, doesn’t that sum up what franchising is (or should be) all about?

The Spar story is an intriguing one. Intriguing because it bucks the general trend of smaller “corner shop” retailers here in the U.K. becoming financially unsustainable businesses, squeezed out by the major out-of-town supermarkets and facing closures across the board. The convenience store industry as a whole has never faced tougher times, with wafer-thin margins and competition from discount chains entering the marketplace left right and center.

Yet SPAR is holding its own. It’s been around for forever and a day – the SPAR story began in Holland in the 1930s, arriving here in the U.K in 1957, and it now holds the apparent honor of being the worlds largest international food retail chain.

It’s clear therefore that SPAR reveals some very interesting lessons that we can all learn as franchisors – either here at home in the UK or over on the other side of the pond.

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Strong branding

The SPAR brand is instantly recognizable. The red and white colours of SPAR signage and the green fir tree have been part of the branding since the word go. SPAR founder Adriaan van Well had the foresight from the very beginning to understand the importance of brand consistency across sites and this has surely played a significant part in the franchise brand success. Over the years the branding may have had an intermittent refresh but never in such a way to move away from its roots. The SPAR branding is enmeshed in its stores, from prominent signage both in and outside of store, to staff clothing and own brand product ranges.

Local community focus

Spar is proud to call itself a business that is ‘run by locals, for locals’. As a brand, it has always ensured that its sites are embedded in the community and retain a local feel, from small touches like community noticeboards to stocking products from local producers. If it spots a gap or demand in the local area for something butchery counter, it will look to install one. With consumer-driven trends for shopping locally and valuing product provenance high on the agenda, this puts SPAR ahead of the game when it comes to other national competitors operating from larger and impersonal locations. Customers love the local, community feel of the stores and working with local producers means store offerings can be adapted to local tastes and demand. For any franchisor or franchisee, the ability to be agile enough to be able to respond quickly to local customer demands surely puts you several steps ahead of the game.

Remaining outside of the competition

As previously indicated, SPAR operates in a highly competitive industry. The supermarket retail marketplace in recent years has seen aggressive (and sometimes somewhat unattractive) marketing campaigns pitched by the largest providers against each other, and similarly aggressive price undercutting. SPAR endeavours to remain outside of the fracas, focusing its own marketing on its strengths of convenience, freshness and quality. It recognises that price is not something that it can generally compete on, given its often costly store locations. Rather than attempting to compete, SPAR keeps its focus and energy on its own business and has an innovative strategy of rolling promotions to entice customers and hold their attention, interest and loyalty.

Focus on franchisee support and retention

Anyone who has read my previous articles will know that I am a firm believer that a happy and engaged team of franchisees is any franchisors biggest asset. SPAR has a partnership approach to working with its franchise network and has invested significant amounts in its processes and procedures so that it not only carries the stock burden but also frees up its franchisees from having to deal with suppliers and fleet so that they can focus on the core business. It is also renowned for the transparent nature of its agreements, promoting openness and trust with its franchisees. As a result it reportedly has a very high franchisee retention rate.

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Collaboration with other brands

As a franchise brand, SPAR recognises that there is great power in allegiances and has formed close alliances with other brands whom, to an outsider, could be viewed as direct competitors. It has introduced Subway sandwich counters into over 40 of its stores, together with Greggs bakery counters and Costa Coffee. An initiative introduced back in 2015, this is another way in which SPAR seems to have successfully managed to hold its own against some of the supermarket giants, recognising the value of harnessing the influence of these other brands. As any savvy franchisor knows, collaboration with other names who have appeal to your target market really can be the key to building something which is not only bigger but also more sustainable.

It’s all credit to SPAR that despite being one of the oldest kids on the block, they seem to be riding the storms of change. Being in touch with their local community allows their franchisees to remain agile, fresh and relevant. And ultimately, as a franchise brand SPAR has seemingly remained true to their original name and value – working together as a team, everyone profits. That’s the spirit of franchising, right there.

By Fiona Simpson

Source: Forbes

Success of franchise model leading to multiple stores for One Stop franchisees

May 22, 2019

Franchisees at One Stop are benefiting so much with the way the franchise model works for their business that it is enabling them to open multiple stores and still have more downtime for themselves.

Dan Amin from Coventry switched his first store in West Bromwich to One Stop in 2016 and another store came in quick succession the following year. This year he is opening another two stores, all under the One Stop franchise, as Dan explains: “I have more stores now, yet I have more free time than I ever had and far less stress!”

One Stop is finding that the trend to open multiple stores is increasing as franchisees harness the power and efficiency of the offering. One Stop aims to provide a simpler model to franchisees, all backed up with advanced technology, meaning they can leave store managers in charge without worrying.  This results in them having more time on their hands, alongside increased funds to grow their business, whether that’s with one, two, three or a multiple store portfolio.

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Amin explains: “This system actually works and the model itself is a lot easier, so I can manage stores more effectively and the support I receive from One Stop is second to none. Since moving to the model, we’ve seen a 50% increase in sales, an increase in footfall and also in customers’ basket spend. Our customers have commented on the increased availability of products and, with our sales increasing week-on-week, we’re surpassing our previous figures all the time.”

“The IT systems and support are second to none and I think One Stop are well ahead of other symbol groups out there. The seven days a week support is invaluable as we know there is always help at the end of the phone if we need it. I’ve been with other groups but none of them have given me the level of support I get with One Stop; that makes such a difference. Before it was always about what I could do to buy more stock but that’s not how One Stop operates. My Business Development Manager (BDM) really supports me and we look at department by department and tweak planograms accordingly. In the long run this saves me time and money and we’re going from strength to strength because of it.”

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Franchisees at One Stop will be visited by their BDM, on average, once every four weeks, although this can be increased if franchisees need it. Amin’s business development manager, Sunil Kumar explains: “I’m here to support Dan and help increase sales and profitability, lower costs and to act as a trusted advisor for him.”

“Compared to other symbol groups, One Stop visits are a lot more structured and there’s a lot more science and depth behind our visits. We’ll go through a suite of financial reports each visit and to plan next steps; the aim being to increase sales and profitability.”

This confidence in the One Stop model means franchisees are able to leave managers in charge knowing they have a solid infrastructure in place to run the stores. “My time is valuable; before I used to be driving around buying stock. Now it’s delivered right to the door, I now use that time looking at other parts of the business, which, for me, is opening new stores. I also get to spend quality time with the family and relax a little more. I’ve got a good team in place and I have much less on my plate, as the systems take care of it for me.”

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Amin is planning to open further stores in the future, all under the One Stop franchise model and concludes: “It’s not a chore coming to work anymore; I call One Stop ‘easy trading’!”

By Fiona Briggs

Source: Retail Times

Hamleys Has a New Owner, But Will the Iconic UK Toy Store Come to the U.S.?

May 19, 2019

Last fall, not long after FAO Schwarz returned to New York City with a new flagship store, the toy industry was buzzing with news that another icon might be plotting an outpost in the Big Apple —  Hamleys.

A UK staple with a lineage that dates back to 1760 when William Hamley opened “Noah’s Ark” — the retailer was said to be nearing a deal to open a two-story U.S. flagship at 2 Herald Square. At the time, sources said that the deal was expected to close early this year, with a target opening in 2020. Now, Hamleys has a new owner.

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Earlier this month, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Brands Ltd. acquired Hamleys Global Holdings Ltd., which operates 167 stores across 18 countries. In India, Reliance has held the master franchise license for the retailer, operating 88 stores in 29 cities.

“Over the last few years, we have built a very significant and profitable business in toy retailing under the Hamleys brand in India,” says Darshan Mehta, president and CEO of Reliance Brands. “The 250-year-old English toy retailer pioneered the concept of experimental retailing, decades before the concept of creating unique experiences in brick and mortar retailing became the new norm. The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business places Reliance into the frontline of global retail. Personally, it is a long-cherished dream come true.”

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As Reliance takes charge with ambitions of becoming a global player in toy retailing, it remains to be seen if Hamleys’ Herald Square project will move forward. The company already has a North American presence with several stores in Mexico. Will the U.S. and Canada be next?

Posted by James Zahn

Source: ToyBook

The Co-op builds on strong summer with customer insight

May 16, 2019

Co-op Franchise UK – convenience retailer The Co-op is working on new customer insight to build on the success of last year’s summer, which saw sales soar on the back of the scorching weather.

Last summer was “phenomenal” according to BWS category trading manager Simon Cairns, with the combination of Fifa World Cup and the great weather translated into very strong summer trading that had continued into the autumn and traditionally quieter pre-Christmas period.. Speaking to The Drinks Business in the autumn, he said the work done on clustering the range in stores had paid dividends and the strong summer had built “real momentum”

“The summer highlighted yet again how important having chilled space is in a convenience store has been for us, and having an offer that is ready-for the consumer.” he said. “More and more customers are having the confidence that you dont’ need to go to a large multiple to get an interesting range of wine, you can go onto your local high street and find an interesting and very credible, well-priced bottle of wine.”

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As a result people had the chance to “reappraise” The Co-op, according to Senior wine buyer Gyles Walker, who told db at last week’s tasting the stores has been through a transformation in recent years and were now ‘looking fantastic’

Walker old db at the recent press tasting the challenge now was to understand the customer and engage with them better.

“Have we retained them [this year], will they come back again? Yes, we’re well into spring now, and the key point to convenient is availability and daily logistic drops which enable it to react quickly to the weather.”

As Walker points out, “We can’t carry much stock, so it has to arrive [daily].”

“We’re now looking at numbers and we are retaining those customers. And it’s an opportunity to engage with them in other ways, for example food and wine pairings.”

The BWS team is working with the food team to pair wines to the latest offer, providing tastings to pair with the latest launches or by occasion.

“We’re working with marketing to use channels in store, including shelf edges to say what it goes well with, and The Co-op magazine is a great opportunity to talk about it, and also social media.  “We’re using those channels to ‘nudge’ consumers.”

The retailer is also conducting research into the occasions and missions that customers are shopping for – essentially what they are looking for at any given moment when they come in store that determine their buying habits and decision-making processes (also known as a ‘decision-tree’).

“And how can we understand that customer decision tree to make the customer purchase choice easier?” Walker says.

“The biggest challenge to us as an industry is how much people are engaged with the product. Some are happy with what they know and what’s presented to them, but we’re concentrating on two types of customers – the ‘quick and easy’, who know what they want, they want chilled, a good price, in and out, and the ‘foodie’ who is more engaged.”

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“They will look at the entire range and have an idea of the occasion, but are open to suggestions or what’s on offer, what they might want to try. They are likely to explore more into the product. So those are two decision-trees – it’s about understanding that one size doesn’t fit all, we have to bring it together and answer those and ensure what it is in the range and how we talk about it.”

Evolution not revolution

Walker said the addition of 100 new stores last year, with another 100 or so set to open in 2019, was opening the business not only to new customers in new areas, but a slightly different customer base. He cited the new franchise at Leeds University, and the increasing number of stores opening under apartment blocks with shared living and dining spaces.

“There is an interesting growth in a new ways of living and people will buy groceries in a different way,” he said.

“We’re seeing the involvement of customers, and new relationship with BWS. It’s an exciting time in the industry, we’re seeing format ideas coming through, replicating how people want to have that relationship with wine, and we can tap into those trends.”

“And as the customer is always evolving, so the portfolio is always evolving too – so we’re always on toes about how range develops.”

Range review were, he said, a constant ‘evolution rather than the more expensive revolution’, but recent refreshes have been bearing fruit.

“Sales growth is coming through, we can refine it and make it easier for customers, that’s the challenge, how to execute it and make it easier for customers to shop.”

The Co-op has seen wine sales grow ahead of the market in 2018, up 4.2%, with market share up 0.3 percentage points. The convenience retailer already over-indexes in BWS and is now supplying an extra 4,000 independent stores through its acquisition with Nisa.

By Arabella Mileham

Source: The Drink Business

WHSmith expands Asian franchise partnership to Singapore

May 12, 2019
  • WHSmith has widened its Asian franchise partnership with King Power Group to include Singapore
  • The partnership deal only covered Hong Kong until now
  • WHSmith stores within Singapore airport will be managed by the retailer

WHSmith has expanded its Asian franchise partnership with Thai travel retail business King Power Group (KPG) to include Singapore.

Until now, the franchise partnership deal with KPG only covered Hong Kong.

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The new partnership means the British books stationery retailer will analyse potential opportunities for new stores in train stations, ferry terminals, as well as commercial centres.

Meanwhile, WHSmith stores within Singapore airport will be managed by the retailer.

“We are pleased to have extended our partnership with King Power Group, which will assist us in growing the presence of WHSmith across Singapore,” WHSmith international managing director Phil McNally said.

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“We continue to be ambitious about expanding the WH Smith brand in Asia and, today, we are active and strongly growing in six countries in the region – in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, India and China.”

By Sahar Nazir

Source: Retail Gazette