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”.


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

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 or one of its 28 showrooms across the UK. Potential franchisee partners interested in finding out more, can access further business information at

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