Co-op to create 1,000 jobs and open 50 new stores

September 7, 2020

Grocery chain the Co-op is opening 50 new stores and creating 1,000 new jobs this year.

The new roles come on top of the 1,000 posts it added during lockdown as demand from shoppers increased.

The extra jobs announced today will be spread across the new shops and 15 stores that are being enlarged.

The Co-op said its research had found that 70% of adults have relied on their local convenience store for food and other goods in recent months

The retailer also said that it had expanded its online shop.

The Co-op currently employs 55,000 workers across the UK and has 2,600 stores. The new stores will open in areas such as Wrexham, London, Poole, Leeds and Guildford.

Meanwhile up to 12 new Co-op franchise stores are also set to launch this year, including at Oxford Brookes University and Stirling University, with more university locations planned for 2021.

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“We continually look for new locations, sites which are definitively convenient in their community,” said David Roberts, managing director of Co-op Property.

He said more than 100 of the Co-op’s outlets would receive major makeovers as part of a £130m investment programme.

The chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, James Lowman, said: “This commitment to investing in stores in the coming months is testament to the importance of the convenience sector.”

The grocery sector has seen a surge in demand during the pandemic, and the big supermarket chains have also been creating jobs.

Last month, Tesco said it would create 16,000 permanent jobs after the lockdown led to “exceptional growth” in its online business.

‘Financial fallout’

While the grocery sector has done well, other parts of the economy have been hit hard by the pandemic.

It was announced on Friday that 540 workers at Nationwide Accident Repair Services have lost their jobs after the struggling business was sold to RunMyCar in a pre-packaged administration.

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As part of the deal 30 of Nationwide’s sites have been shut.

Founded in 1993 in Witney, Oxfordshire, the business operated 115 garages across the country, as well as a mobile fleet of repair vans, servicing the accident repair market for UK insurers.

But the company suffered a substantial decline in business during lockdown as millions of motorists stayed off the road.

“As with many other businesses, the group had to weather major financial fallout due to the economic impact of Covid-19, which meant that trading volumes were significantly reduced,” said Rob Lewis, joint administrator at PwC.

“Against that backdrop, the sale announced today reflects a significant positive outcome for the business, and we are especially pleased to have safeguarded 2,350 roles including apprentices, mechanics and technicians.

“Sadly we have had to make 540 staff redundant.”

Source: BBC

Mothercare goods to be sold through Irish Boots stores

August 21, 2020

Babycare retailer Mothercare UK has finalised a deal with Boots to sell goods across the chain in time for the autumn season.

Mothercare announced a new business model following talks with its franchisee.

Under the terms of the deal with Boots the pharmacy chain will become Mothercare’s Ireland and UK franchise partner.

The agreement, which was first announced in December, allows for Mothercare clothing to be sold in all Boots shops across the two countries, while bigger items such as pushchairs and car seats will be sold in the larger Boots stores. The products will also be available to buy online.

The Boots deal had suffered a series of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mothercare – which last year put its UK stores into administration, closing all 79 of its shops – has also announced a new business model after talks with franchisees.

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It said the new franchise arrangements would ensure a “more sustainable and less capital-intensive business model”.

That model will see the group’s franchise partners pay for products directly to the manufacturers.

Shares in Mothercare jumped in morning trading yesterday, rising as much as 18pc at one stage yesterday before settling around 7pc higher in London.

As well as the 10-year Boots deal, Mothercare said it had also struck a new 20-year franchise arrangement with Alshaya Group, its main franchise partner.

But Mothercare added that it still expects to take a £10m (€11m) hit from the UK stores entering administration last November.

The administration left Mothercare refocused on simply providing branded products to retailers.

In June, the group was also dealt a blow when temporary boss Glyn Hughes said he did not want the job on a permanent basis.

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His departure saw Mothercare led by the chief operating officer and chief financial officer, under the eye of chairman Clive Whiley.

Mothercare Ireland was placed into liquidation in June with the loss of 197 jobs after the directors said they could no longer see a viable future for the business.

Prior to that the company – which is a separate entity to Mothercare UK – had operated 14 stores across Cork, Drogheda, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, Limerick, Newbridge, Portlaoise, Sligo and Tralee.

The business had been operating in Ireland since 1992.

In 2018 sales in Ireland were €28.5m, generating a profit of €136,000.

By Ellie Donnelly

Source: Independent

Snap-on Tools nominated for major franchising award

July 21, 2020

Snap-on Tools has been shortlisted for the Franchisor of the Year accolade at the bfa HSBC British Franchise Awards, to be held at the Vox, Birmingham, on November 30.

Kettering-based Snap-on Tools is the world’s number one professional tool brand. It is the leading global manufacturer and distributor of tools for automotive, marine, railroad and engineering technicians. Franchisees sell the most sought-after tools in the industry and deliver outstanding customer service to technicians from their very own, iconic showroom on wheels.

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“As we celebrate our 100th year in business, the recognition we’ve received by being shortlisted for the Franchisor of the Year award is an indication of our standing in the automotive and franchising industries,” said Lisa Law, national franchise manager at Snap-on Tools.

“It’s very humbling to have been chosen as a finalist from hundreds of other respected franchise brands across the country. Our success is down to the hard work of our 400 franchisees, so I want to thank them for their continued dedication.”

The awards evening is the flagship event in the franchising calendar and getting a nomination in itself is an achievement, proving the business works ethically and in the best interests of franchisees and staff, beating many other franchise systems who also entered.

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Pip Wilkins QFP, CEO of the British Franchising Association, congratulated the franchise:

“With over 160 support staff, Snap-on Tools really focuses on enabling the franchisee network to thrive, with an enviable support programme to ensure that everybody has all the tools for success.”

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Andrew Brattesani, Head of Franchising, HSBC, said:

“Initiatives created to help the entire network stand out at Snap-on Tools. For instance, it’s ‘Jump-Start Programme’, paying for half of the start-up costs for millennials, has been pivotal in allowing the leaders of tomorrow get into franchising.”

Snap-on Tools will go head-to-head against five other franchise brands in November.

By Martin Stone

Source: BDaily

Southern Co-op accredited by ethical franchise regulator

June 12, 2020

A regional co-operative has become one of the first convenience store chains to be accredited as a full member of a British regulatory body. Southern Co-op, which operates the ‘Welcome’ franchise offering across the south, has been awarded the Full Member status by the British Franchise Association.

The British Franchise Association (bfa), which is currently the only voluntary self-regulatory body for the UK franchise industry, strives to promote ethical franchising practice across the UK.

It also carries out a robust accreditation process for those applying to become members of the bfa and declines membership for companies that do not adhere to the criteria in place for ethical franchising.

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Mike Fitton​, franchise business manager at Southern Co-op, said: “Our franchise offering has undergone significant development since we first launched in 2007 and we have been going from strength to strength over the last few years since we launched a new operating system.

“We felt the time was right to apply to become a member of the British Franchise Association but it was not easy as there was strict and extensive criteria alongside proof of a sustained business model and the support we provide.

“It is because we have a good track record of success that we were successful in our application as full members. We are delighted with the news and will now continue to strive for further successes within our new and existing partnerships.”

If approved, members of the British Franchise Association can become a provisional listing, an associate member or a full member.

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The bfa code of practice, which is followed by all members, is the only recognised code of practice for ethical franchising in the UK, and is based on the European Code of Ethical Franchising.

Southern Co-op currently partners with 22 franchisees that operate 37 stores from Devon to Kent and into central London.

Pip Wilkins, CEO of the bfa, said: “Full Membership of the bfa recognises a franchisors commitment to, and value of, ethical franchising practices. Southern Co-op has undergone rigorous checks against an extensive set of criteria to become a member and is testament to their unwavering commitment to best practice and their long-term investment in ethical franchising.”

Southern Co-op’s franchise team offers retailers extensive personalised support with access to specialists in merchandising, artwork, planning, space & sales analysis.

As well as access to major brands and renowned Co-op own-label products, franchisees are also encouraged to expand a unique offering through supporting local producers.

By Fiona Briggs

Source: Retail Times

Cath Kidston closing all UK stores to trade permanently online

April 22, 2020

Vintage-inspired fashion chain Cath Kidston has announced it will close all 60 of its UK stores to trade exclusively online.

Earlier this month the struggling retailer appointed Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) as its administrators but it has now confirmed that its parent company Baring Private Equity Asia, will buy the brand and retain the its e-commerce platform and franchise and wholesale businesses.

This means that Cath Kidston will now become a digital-only retailer, with shops including its outlet store at Cheshire Oaks, shutting for good.

Only 32 out of the retailer’s 940 UK employees will retain their jobs to continue running the business online, according to national reports.

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Melinda Paraie, CEO of Cath Kidston, said: “While we are pleased that the future of Cath Kidston has been secured, this is obviously an extremely difficult day as we say goodbye to many colleagues.

“Despite our very best efforts, against the backdrop of COVID-19, we were unable to secure a solvent sale of the business which would have allowed us to avoid administration and carry on trading in our current form.”

Cath Kidston used to have a branch on Chester’s Eastgate Street but it closed in June 2018, having been a fixture in the city centre for six years.

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Its trade could have been affected when an outlet store opened at Cheshire Oaks in April 2017.

A spokesperson for Baring Private Equity Asia (BPEA), said: “While we are disappointed that the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in the cessation of the retail store network and impacted many employees, we are pleased to have secured a future for a number of Cath Kidston staff and the Cath Kidston brand in the form of a viable digital business.”

The brand was set up by Cath Kidston in 1993 and has more than 200 outlets around the world.

By Carmella de Lucia

Source: Cheshire Live

Marks & Spencer is giving free Easter eggs to NHS staff, carers and emergency workers – here’s how to claim yours

April 10, 2020

Easter weekend is just around the corner, and Marks and Spencer is saying thank you to all NHS staff, carers and emergency workers by giving them a free Percy Pig Easter egg.

The offer was highlighted on the Hotukdeals website. They wrote, “NHS, Blue badge holders and Blue Light card holders can get a free Percy Pig Easter egg at M&S instore. The below promo was spotted at Wrexham but been told it’s national (excludes franchise stores and petrol shops), on selected NHS days.”

When is the offer available?

M&S confirmed that the Easter egg freebie will be available this Friday (10 April), which is also Good Friday.

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Which stores will the offer be running in?

It will be available in all M&S shops, excluding franchise stores.

Who is it available for?

The offer will run all day for all NHS staff, carers and emergency workers, in order to say thank you for all of their ongoing hard work during the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer said, “Very proud to be doing a little something to say thank you.”

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How do I get one?

In order to get your free Percy Pig Easter egg, all you need to do is show your badge or card in store.

Where can I buy Easter eggs online?

If you’re currently self-isolating, but want to make sure you include an Easter egg in your online shop, then some supermarkets are currently selling these seasonal treats.

Sainsbury’s is currently selling a Thorntons Unicorn Egg, as well as a Thorntons Milk Chocolate Bunny at a discounted price on its online store.

Tesco is also selling a range of classic treats from the popular chocolate-maker’s easter collection, including Thorntons Easter Egg Collection and a speciality Chocolate Dinosaur Egg.

By Helen Johnson

Source: Hartlepool Mail

Coronavirus: Clarks to temporarily close all UK stores

March 19, 2020

Footwear specialist Clarks has announced a temporary closure of all of its UK and Ireland stores in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement today, Clarks said it would temporarily close all of its 441 stores in the UK and Ireland immediately in order to protect “the health and safety of our employees, customers and surrounding communities”.

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General manager for the UK and Ireland Joe Ulloa said while stores were temporarily closed “store employees will continue to receive pay and benefits”.

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He noted that some of Clarks’ franchise stores “may remain open” and said UK customers could continue to shop the retailer’s full range at its online store.

By Hugh Radojev

Source: Retail Week

German kitchen retailer Kutchenhaus to open in the former Slug & Lettuce unit in Altrincham

February 7, 2020

German kitchen retailer Kutchenhaus is to open in the former Slug & Lettuce unit in Altrincham.

The 8,000 sq ft, four-storey building on Stamford New Road was sold by Cream Investments to Buzz Communications in a deal worth £915,000 back in November 2017, two months after the closure of the bar.

Now, after a long period on the market, the 2,000 sq ft ground-floor space – which has been completely renovated – has been let on a 10-year lease to Kutchenhaus. It will open its doors in April.

The above floors have already been remodelled into six two-bedroom apartments, which are all let.

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Joshua Bowyer, Kutchenhaus director, said: “I am extremely excited to be bringing the Kutchenhaus brand to Altrincham.

“It is an area we have been looking at for some time and feel this unit will make a fantastic showroom. We can’t wait to open the doors in April and begin creating wonderful kitchens for the people of Altrincham.”

Established in 2004 at Trafford Retail Park, Kutchenhaus is the UK arm of Nobilia, the world’s largest kitchen manufacturer. It has 31 kitchen outlets around the UK and operates on a franchise basis.

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Daniel Lee, director, Regional Property Solutions, responsible for the management of Buzz Communication’s property portfolio, said: “The public realm improvements and new occupiers such as Evuna, Ferrious and Ginkgoon continue to make Stamford New Road a desirable alternative retail pitch for the town centre. This is only set to improve with the impending re-development of The Grafton’s. This commercial letting is the final piece of the jigsaw realising the full potential of this investment opportunity.”

By David Prior

Source: Altrincham Today

Clarks shoe shop in Wilmslow converted to franchise

January 13, 2020

A CLARKS shoe shop in Wilmslow has been converted to operate as a franchise store after Tonks Shoes secured six-figure funding from NatWest.

The five current employees will continue to work at the shoe shop on Grove Street.

The business has also bought a second franchise store of the iconic shoe brand in Sheffield, with a further 12 staff, and bringing the company’s total of Clarks franchises to seven.

Established in 1978, Tonks Shoes Ltd was launched by Jeffrey and Elizabeth Tonks as an independent shoe retailer selling men’s, women’s and children’s shoes.

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Michael Tonks, their son, took over the business in 1982, opening franchises under the Tonks Shoes’ brand, until the firm became an official Clarks franchisee in 2000, changing its existing stores to come under the Clarks brand.

Now in its third generation, Matthew Tonks is managing director of the Leigh-headquartered business, overseeing its seven franchises across the north west and Yorkshire.

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The two recent acquisitions bring the company’s total number of staff to close to 100 and will contribute to an annual turnover of more than £4 million.

Matthew Tonks said: “By adding two more stores to our portfolio we have supported Clarks’ high street presence and kept experienced staff in the process.

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“The backing from NatWest has enabled us to take ownership of this valued Wilmslow store, continuing to bring the products from this established and iconic brand to the town.”

Ruth Kirby, relationship manager at NatWest, said: “Tonks Shoes Ltd are passionate about supporting high street stores in towns across the North of England.

“We look forward to supporting the business in the future as Matthew and the team look to expand the firm’s portfolio further.”

By Ian Ross

Source: Knutsford Guardian

Body Shop relocates flagship Belfast store

January 6, 2020

Belfast’s Body Shop store situated on Donegall Place is relocating to Victoria Square from today.

The beauty retailer will now operate from a unit on the lower level of the shopping centre, next to shirt shop TM Lewin.

It will become Northern Ireland’s flagship store for the brand which was founded by the late Dame Anita Roddick in Brighton in 1976.

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The retailer began as a small shop providing skincare in refilled bottles that would see it become a brand that “could be a force of good for the world”.

It was a pioneer in non-animal tested products and today it has become a retail business that serves over 30m customers worldwide, employing 10,000 people with a further 12,000 in its franchise team.

Ms Roddick sold the business to L’Oreal in 2006 just a year before she died.

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Two years ago it was bought by Brazilian company Natura in a £844m deal.

And, on Friday, Natura announced that it had also completed the purchase of global beauty retail brand Avon, following the sale which was announced on May 22, 2019.

There are currently 3,000 Body Shop shops located in 70 countries worldwide, three of which are in Northern Ireland.

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Among its most popular products over the years have been Body Shop’s oil fragrances including White Musk, which the retailer still sells.

Its more modern product heroes include its Body Shop Drops of Youth serum, one of which sells every 23 seconds according to one report. One of its Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Mask sells every 17 seconds.

By Emma Deighan

Source: Belfast Telegraph