Archive | Business

Natural Food Store: Ten Years as a Co-operative Owned by the Community!


This month, the Natural Food Store on North Lane in Headingley, is celebrating ten years as a community owned co-operative.

When, after 23 years, former owners Chris and Sue Sharratt wanted to retire, customers and the community worried that another independent store was about to disappear from Headingley. Together they raised the money to buy the store through a community share issue and took charge of the shop in November 2007.

The opening celebration proudly sported the banner ‘Under new ownership – Ours!’ Manager Stuart McClelland was appointed and still leads the team. Chris and Sue were so delighted with the change that they stayed on a part-time basis – and are still there ten years on! Stuart and his team is supported by an elected committee, and the community owners have kept the shop thriving.

The primary aim of the buy-out was to carry on the success of the shop and be an independent, community based co-operative selling products with a provenance that customers could trust. All of which the shop has achieved. With its wide product range and knowledgeable staff it continues to hold its own as a high class grocer in Headingley selling local bread, eggs and dairy, food for special diets, and a wide range of whole foods – particularly its very competitive Wholesense range and ethical foods, as well as bathroom and household goods, and remedies.

Whether a buy-out by the community or by staff members, the success of co-operatives arising out of private businesses is a proven model for the continuation of successful businesses but receives little publicity.

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Levi Solicitors Support St Gemma’s in Jail & Bail


Steven Newdall, Managing Partner of Levi Solicitors LLP, recently took part in Jail and Bail 2017 in aid of St Gemma’s Hospice.

On 13th October, volunteers from West Yorkshire Police ‘arrested’ Steven for breaking laws against hoarding in his office. His secretary, who recently tidied his office, found copies of 20 year old magazines, his notes from his law degree and a small handheld television!

The officers took Steven to the Court Room at Leeds Town Hall be tried for his terrible crimes. He was presented with evidence collated by his colleagues, and eventually found guilty. He then spent time locked up in the Victorian cells below the Town Hall! St Gemma’s kindly agreed that he should be allowed to escape from the cells as he had raised enough ‘bail money’ for the charity.

“St Gemma’s Hospice does great work for the people of Leeds and we are proud to support them throughout the year”, said Steven. “Taking part in Jail and Bail is a fun way for us to raise money and awareness for the Hospice. While I am sure some of my colleagues would rather have paid for me to stay in the cells, we have already raised a very generous sum.”

If you would like to contribute to Steven’s bail fund, please click here.

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Free Public Speaking Workshop


Fall into Place Theatre is running a free public speaking taster workshop on 12th October, 2 – 3:30pm at HEART, Bennett Road, Headingley, as part of Leeds Business Week.

The workshop aims to improve skills and confidence in public speaking. “We use drama techniques to learn key skills and see public speaking as a form of performance”, said Sarah Goodyear, facilitator and co-founder of Fall into Place. “This taster is great for people who are a bit nervous about public speaking, or just want to improve their skills.”

Fall into Place provides training workshops in public speaking, stress relief and team building. All profits go back into the community, providing accessible, fun workshops for all ages and abilities.

The workshop is free to attend, but you need to register as places are limited. To register, visit or email


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Leeds Mencap & Barclays Yorkshire raise an amazing £32,500



Leeds Mencap’s 2016 partnership with the Barclays Yorkshire and North East Region has raised £32,500 to support very young children with learning disabilities across Leeds in their specialist Hawthorn playroom.

“We have worked closely with Barclays over many years but 2016 was fantastic as the staff threw themselves enthusiastically into raising money for us,” said Cath Lee, CEO of Leeds Mencap. “They had a corporate golf day, worked up a sweat with a ‘rowathon’, organised a sporting dinner at Headingley and put on a private showing of the BFG for our service users. Some lovely volunteers also got green fingered and did some hedge trimming and gardening. They were amazing.”

“The whole business got involved and really got behind Leeds Mencap and the fantastic work that they are doing at the Vinery Centre,” said Barclays Business Manager, Dawn Spencer. “We wanted to support Leeds Mencap’s Hawthorn Specialist Playroom as it is critical that very young children with learning disabilities get early intervention when they most need it. It was great to have the cinema showing for some of Leeds Mencap’s families as it is sometimes difficult for them to go to the cinema together as a family.”

People with a learning disability find it harder than others to learn, understand and communicate.  Leeds Mencap offers support to people with very different needs and aspirations in order to help ensure that they live a fulfilling life and achieve their goals. To continue to provide these valuable services, Leeds Mencap are on the lookout for more corporate partners who would like to make the most of the teambuilding and engagement opportunities that working with a charity presents.

If you would like to help Leeds Mencap to help others, either as a corporate or an individual then please contact Sarah Hooker on or call 0113 2351331.







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George’s Great British Kitchen – Classics with a Unique Twist



George’s Great British Kitchen, the idea of two childhood friends, Andrew and Nick from Nottingham, recently opened at The Light on The Headrow.

Andrew’s father, George, opened his first fish and chip shop in the 60s. “As teenagers, I remember Nick and I spending our school holidays painting the shop to make sure that everything was spot on for our customers”, said Andrew. “I used to help in the shop, frying fish, serving customers and everything in between – which all helped to shape the type of service I wanted to provide.

“We dreamt of creating a place where people could meet with friends and family and have a great time together, with good food and great music. We’re all about people feeling comfortable in a non-scripted, non-chain like environment.”



Having run successful fish and chip shops, Andrew and Nick had a vision of adapting traditional British classics, and adding a unique twist.

“We wanted a visit to our restaurant to bring back childhood memories of enjoying ice cream by the sea, tucking into freshly made doughnuts, and exploring all that’s best about the British coast. That said, the classic British fish and chips are just a small part of our menu!”

George’s menu offers buckets of variety, including Ham Hock and Mushy Pea Fritters, covered in crunchy seaweed batter and served with wasabi mayonnaise, and Cauliflower and Mushroom Jalfrezi Pie.

To find out more, visit their Facebook page.


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Ed Mayo to Speak at Talking Heads at HEART


On Thursday 11th May, Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, will present ‘Can business be values led?’ as part of the Talking Heads programme at HEART on Bennett Road, Headingley.

When ethical issues in business are rarely out of the news and when many are thinking about forms of ownership, involvement, and indeed the very purpose of business, this is a timely issue, especially in the middle of the General Election campaign!

In 2014, Lucy Siegle of The Observer, commented that “Ed has played a leading role in almost every environmental and ethical business initiative over the last two decades”, while the Guardian has nominated him as one of the top 100 most influential figures in British social policy.

He recently published ‘Values: How to Bring Values to Life in your Business’ and is editor of The Co-operative Advantage. Ed Mayo was one of the team who founded the Fairtrade Mark, and rose to prominence as director of the New Economics Foundation from 1992 to 2003.


Talking Heads takes place on the second Thursday of the month, 7.30 – 9.00pm at HEART, Bennett Rd, Headingley, LS6 3HN

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Leeds Mencap’s Corporate Challenge Is Back!


Zurich Insurance Company signing up with Catherine Storey, Leeds Mencap


The Leeds Mencap Apprentice challenge is back for a fourth year and seeking creative, entrepreneurial teams to battle it out for the top spot. Just how much money could you make in seven weeks with just a £50 loan?

As well as providing a fantastic opportunity to improve team working and fulfil corporate social responsibility aims, taking part in the challenge also raises much-needed funds to support people with learning disabilities.



Winston’s Solicitors 2016 Apprentice Challenge winners


Several teams have already signed up and are raring to go. Last year’s winners, Winston’s Solicitors, have entered for the fourth time hoping to retain their crown. Joining them are the HSBC Service Recovery team, Zurich Insurance Company, a Leeds Mencap team, and Re:Work an office furniture company. With more teams to come, the competition is going to be tough!

“This challenge is an enjoyable and fresh way for businesses to make a social impact, meet their internal engagement objectives and do something for a worthwhile cause,” said Mark Goldstone, Head of Business Representation & Policy, West & North Yorks Chamber of Commerce and Judge on Leeds Mencap Apprentice. “I would urge chamber businesses to get a team together and get involved.”

Leeds Mencap is inviting both large and small businesses to take part. For further information, call 0113 235 1331, or email or







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Dementia Friendly Leeds Holds ‘Connections’ Event at HEART




Dementia Friendly Leeds is holding an event at HEART, Bennet Road, Headingley on 27th February, 2.30 – 4.30pm, aimed at providing active support for organisations that would like to become more dementia friendly.

Guest speaker Kathryn Lord, Dementia Research Fellow at Bradford University, will talk about effective communication. There will be inspiring stories, support from dementia friendly mentors, workshops on how to develop more dementia friendly support, and the opportunity to form new partnerships.

“Many organisations want to know more about dementia and how to support people living with the condition, but are unsure how to start”, said Sarah Goodyear, Dementia Friendly Leeds Campaign Officer. “We aim to bring people together who are passionate about being dementia friendly, so they can learn from each other, form new networks, improve services and raise awareness.”

Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain, and symptoms can include memory loss and communication difficulties. It affects roughly one in fourteen people aged over 65. Everyday tasks can become more challenging, and, without support from the community, dementia can be very isolating.

Dementia Friendly Leeds offers support and information to businesses and organisations wanting to become more dementia friendly. Anyone keen to make Leeds a dementia friendly city is welcome to attend.

The event is free but places are limited. To book, email, or visit Eventbrite:

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Super Casino Opens in Victoria Gate

Opening of Victoria Gate Casino in Leeds......Left to right, Patrick Noakes, Lady Mayoress Lynn Scholes, Chief Exec. of GGV, Andrew Herd, Lord Mayor Gerry Harper and Dep. Leader of the Council James Lewis Pic Simon Dewhurst

Opening of Victoria Gate Casino in Leeds……Left to right, Patrick Noakes, Lady Mayoress Lynn Scholes, Chief Exec. of GGV, Andrew Herd, Lord Mayor Gerry Harper and Dep. Leader of the Council James Lewis
Pic Simon Dewhurst


Victoria Gate Casino, the largest casino in the north of England and Scotland, has just opened in Victoria Gate.

The £30m venue is one of the biggest entertainment venues to open in Leeds in recent years and the third largest Casino in the UK.

“The vision for Victoria Gate Casino has been years in the making but it has been worth the wait to see everyone here celebrating with us tonight”, said Andrew Herd, Chief Executive of Global Gaming Ventures, operators of Victoria Gate Casino. “Victoria Gate Casino is a stylish entertainment hub where everyone from first-time visitors and passers-by to top poker players are catered for.”

Opening night visitors experienced the casino’s three venues, Live Bar, with wall-to-wall, state-of-the-art screens displaying the latest sports and live action. Curve, the cocktail, champagne and craft beer bar, which offers a rotating menu featuring beers from local breweries.  And, V Restaurant, an informal brasserie-style setting, offering top quality dishes from traditional home favourites to Pan-Asian cuisine.

“The casino has created over 200 jobs – 90% of which have been sourced from within the Leeds City Region”, said Andrew Herd. “We received more than 5,000 job applications – which speaks volumes for how keen people are to be a part of such an exciting project.”

For more information, visit





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Our Energy – An Alternative to the Big Six Energy Firms


Fed up with the Big Six energy firms’ contempt for customers, David Pike and Karin Sode decided to ask consumers across Britain to ‘chip in’ and help start a new, transparent energy company through crowdfunding.

British consumers, tired of the big energy companies’ relentless price hikes, lack of transparency and poor customer service, now have the chance to create an energy company with a difference. The charge is being backed by a number of senior business people, including former chair of Gleneagles Hotel, Peter Lederer OBE.

David, Karin and their team aim to crowdfund over £450,000 and make Our Energy operational in 2017. In the new company, not only will customers be represented on the board of directors, but it also plans to give 75% of profits back to its customers.

Our Energy will share salaries, decisions, accounts and prices with customers, becoming the first completely transparent and customer-focused UK energy company in the UK.

“Like most UK energy consumers, Karin and I have have had bad experiences when dealing with the big energy firms”, said David Pike. “People in the UK have quite rightly lost trust in their energy suppliers. We want to bring democracy and transparency to the UK’s energy market. Our customers will enjoy the profits and after three years will own the company. They will never have to switch supplier again.”

“Energy comes from natural resources that should belong to us all, not private entities,” said Karin. “We are absolutely passionate about returning ownership of this natural resource to consumers. We are crowdfunding for Our Energy because we don’t want to answer to private shareholders – our customers will be our shareholders.”

Supported by a wider team of finance and business specialists, the team raised over £18,000 on crowdfunder in Autumn 2016 – the public’s enthusiasm meant they smashed their £10,000 target by the deadline. The current drive to crowdfund over £450,000 will secure Our Energy’s future and ensure it becomes operational and open to customers in 2017.

Consumers can secure their places as future owners of their own energy company by donating on Shares cannot be bought and sold: they will remain in the hands of customers.



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