Gather & Gather opens first Co-op franchised store at Oxford Brookes Uni

Gather & Gather, which is part of CH&CO, a specialist catering and hospitality company, has just opened its first retail shop as a Co-op franchisee at Oxford Brookes University.

The Headington Campus Co-op of Oxford Brookes University is one of the largest Co-op’s stores at a UK university, providing 21 new job opportunities for hospitality workers that have been laid-off by Covid-19, as well as for students attending the university.

Gather & Gather secured the 10-year contract, worth £8.1m, to provide catering services within Oxford Brookes University’s three Oxford campuses in 2019, with operations starting earlier this year.

The contract was its first with a university, bolstering its presence in the higher education sector, and provided a route to market for the Co-op, bringing a brand new convenience store to the location.

The store, which is managed and run by Gather & Gather, will deliver Co-op quality products and good prices conveniently, supporting the Co-op’s strategy to get closer to communities and to where what its customers want, need and, care about.

Rob Fredrickson, Managing Director of Gather & Gather, said, “We’re delighted to be the first caterer at a University that the Co-op has awarded a franchise to. The new venture is perfect for Oxford Brookes University, enhancing the vibrant campus life and supporting the values and sustainability goals of everyone.

“It’s been a very challenging time for the hospitality industry with many colleagues displaced as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our diversification into this retail franchise project has enabled us to offer our colleagues alternative opportunities, which is a welcome positive in difficult times.”

Martin Rogers, Head of New Channels at Co-op, said, “At the Co-op we are always looking for ways to reach new customers and members, and this a hugely exciting opportunity to grow our brand and generate mutual value with likeminded partners. We’re delighted to be working with Gather and Gather, developing our businesses together.

'Our Co-op purpose is about connecting communities, bringing people together and making a difference. The Co-op Oxford Brookes Franchise store will allow us to make our fabulous range available in another new location and better serve this campus and surrounding community.

'And what’s more, every time our own brand products are purchased with a Co-op Membership card, you know you’re helping communities here and around the world.”

Phillipa Fletcher, Head of Commercial Services, Oxford Brookes University, said, “Oxford Brookes is committed to providing high-quality, sustainable and value-for-money catering across each of its campuses. We look forward to working with Gather & Gather on a range of exciting new food options for our students, staff and visitors to the University.”

The new store offers a range of fresh, healthy foods, extended vegan and free-from products, Fairtrade produce, food-to-go, in-store bakery and essentials, to better serve the campus.

With safety of paramount importance Co-op has introduced strict measures since the outbreak of Covid-19 including rigorous cleanliness, social distancing, limiting the number of customers in store, protective screens at check-outs, and the wearing of visors and face-coverings. In addition, contactless card payment limits are increased to £45, making it easier, quicker and safer to shop.

The Co-op gives TOTUM cardholders 10% discount off groceries and for all Co-op own brand products and services bought by a member who swipes their membership card, a percentage is donated back to the member’s online wallet as well as to the Co-op Local Community Fund, helping local community projects in their area.