Lavazza hopefuls face losing thousands
People who signed up to open Lavazza coffee shops across the UK stand to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds after the company handling the project was shut down.
Lavazza, Italy's biggest coffee company and one of the sponsors of the Wimbledon tennis championship, announced plans in January to open up to 400 Lavazza Espression coffee shops across the UK in the next decade, appointing Manchester-based Catalyst Retail to handle the roll-out.
At least 16 franchisees had signed up, each paying a refundable fee of around £24,000 to Catalyst. But franchisees reported a lack of support and communication from the firm, with several asking for their deposits back.
Lavazza terminated its master franchise agreement with Catalyst Retail in May, and yesterday the company was ordered to shut by the courts following a winding-up petition brought by six people who are owed money.
Despite this, many of the franchisees appear to have little chance of recovering their cash. Manjider Singh, who signed up to open a Leeds branch, said: "All the information we are getting, we don't have any hope [of getting money back], the only hope we have is Lavazza itself."
In a statement, Lavazza UK said it is "in the process of appointing a new master franchisee which the company is hoping to be in a position to announce next month in line with the progression of the legal process".
When contacted Catalyst Retail was answering the phones as Lavazza Espressions UK, but no one was available for comment.