There’s a huge Chinese market hall opening underneath Manchester’s newest neighbourhood

A brand new Chinese market hall is set to open doors underneath one of Manchester’s most exciting city centre neighbourhoods this summer.

Hello Oriental will be the latest edition to the Circle Square development on Oxford Road.

The new venue – which started life as an online supermarket specialising in Chinese and Vietnamese food, and is based on a concept created by popular local Chinese restaurant Ocean Treasure – will span across three floors, mostly underground, and as well as being home to a food hall serving Chinese roast meats, dim sum and East Asian street food, it will also feature a modern Chinese bakery and supermarket.

The development will all take shape beneath the new 5.7 acre Symphony Park.

And it’s also set to be joining Canvas Manchester – a new gig venue and events space – where DJs and live music will provide entertainment for the market hall’s visitors at the weekends.

Speaking ahead of the arrival of Hello Oriental – which has been inspired by global dining destinations like Bang Bang Oriental in London, and 1800 Lucky in Miami – Ricky Yip, owner of Hello Oriental, said: “When we launched Hello Oriental as an online supermarket 12 months ago, that was only the start of our journey.

“We also wanted to deliver the very best Asian and oriental produce to our customers in Manchester, but we needed a flagship venue that would bring our vision to life”.

Bowker Sadler Architecture
Bowker Sadler Architecture

He continued: “It was clear to us that Circle Square is the perfect place for us [as it’s] a new city neighbourhood that is bringing people together and creating a really thriving community.

“We can’t wait to launch Hello Oriental this year and we’re confident that our new market hall experience will be a place for food-lovers of all backgrounds to come together, socialise and enjoy the very best Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine.”

“We’ve always had one goal,” Azim Kourah, Director of Hello Oriental, added.

“To bring the finest oriental food to the people of Manchester to enjoy [and] moving to the city’s newest, fast growing neighbourhood enables us to reach new audiences through an original concept and be delivered with the same exceptional levels of quality and service we’re famous for.”

Tom Renn – Managing Director at Bruntwood SciTech Manchester – added: “The very best cities around the world are known for being hotbeds of culture, entertainment and social activity, and that vibrancy and community is exactly what will be on offer at Circle Square.

“Hello Oriental is a fantastic concept that will appeal to the students and residents that call Circle Square home, as well as to the office workers and visitors alike.”

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Hello Oriental is expected to open in July 2021.

The venue will be open seven days a week – from 10am to 11pm – with the market hall as its focal point.

Manchester-born creative agency launches free custom website giveaway for local charities

Manchester has always been a resilient city of tight-knit communities, but nothing has proved that more than what we’ve been faced with over the last year.

It almost feels redundant to say at this point, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has done just about everything to flip life as we once knew it on its head since the first national lockdown was imposed across England towards the end of March 2020.

And since then, our region hasn’t had it easy.

In addition to the three national lockdowns, Greater Manchester has been hit with some of the toughest restrictions for longer than anywhere else in the country, with sectors shut down for significant periods of time and strict social-distancing measures remaining place in most public and social settings, but still, despite all the obstacles presented and the hardships faced, Mancunians stuck together and showed their fighting spirit.

The brilliant people of this brilliant region sought to help out the most vulnerable and less fortunate in our communities.

It’s shown us that the power of charity has never been stronger.

Which is why one Manchester-born and bred creative agency wants to lend a hand and offer its services to those local charities looking to get their feet off the ground and “transform their online presence” to reach a wider audience by running a competition that gives two initiatives / organisations the chance to have a custom-designed website built for free.

Convertaroo is an award-winning creative agency based right here in the heart of Manchester city centre.

Founded in 2016, with “Manchester our home but the world our canvas”, Convertaroo offers website design, social media management and digital advertising to maximise brands’ online presence, with the main goal of helping businesses reach their true potential, no matter what field they are in.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCAj7A6gPWR/

“Our portfolio spans from Cheshire to Hollywood, but Manchester is always home.” Convertaroo’s Creative Director, Omar James Thompson, told us.

“Many of our fellow Mancunians depend on the help and support from local charity organisations.

“As a creative agency, we know how vital an online presence is to get noticed, but we also understand that, right now, it’s something that small charities can’t afford or prioritise, so we are looking to help two local charities spread their message further with a brand new website design and build, completely for free.

He continued: “Since last March, we’ve been amazed with how our community has reacted to the lockdowns, [so] we’ve been looking for a way to help Manchester [and] this seemed like the obvious way to do so – help the charities grow their online presence to keep providing that essential support.

“Now, more than ever, is the perfect time to give something back to our city”.

And for a charity to be in with the chance of winning one of the free custom-built websites on offer, all they need to do is be nominated, or even nominate themselves.

It’s as simple as that.

“We are looking for two small charities or organisations that help provide benefit and support to our fellow Mancunians.” Omar continued.

“Whether it’s a food bank organisation, mental health support, single parent groups or anything in between, the main rule of entry is that you provide support within our city, that’s all we ask, so please don’t hesitate to nominate, even if you’re not sure whether your chosen nominee fits the criteria”.

Keen to nominate a Greater Manchester charity into this exciting giveaway? Head to the Convertaroo website here.

The winners are planned to be announced at the end of March.

You can also find out more information about Covertaroo and the services provided here, as well as keep up to date with the company on Instagram.

0161 818 4865 | [email protected]

Manchester student starts ‘side hustle’ selling houseplants to help improve peoples’ mental health

There’s no denying that houseplants are enjoying their moment right now.

While it’s true that they cannot even remotely be considered a new phenomenon, with early historical records appearing to suggest that ornamental and fruiting plants were potted indoors by those as early as the Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, Sumerians, Romans and even in ancient China, the popularity of houseplants has been on a sharp rise over the past few years.

If that rise wasn’t sharp enough as it is though, along came lockdown.

As the country was placed under COVID-safe restrictions, and the public told to “stay at home” for the foreseeable, the upward trajectory of houseplant popularity grew astronomically, with dedicated retailers all across the country reporting a significant surge in sales over the last 11 months.

Even as much as a whopping 500% increase for one retailer, according to The Telegraph.

So, what is to account for such rise then? Well, it’s simple. For those stuck at home, which has been the vast majority of us at one point or another, houseplants have seemingly offered a way of brining the outside in, a way of injecting greenery into our homes, and not to mention, they have provided the perfect pastime and place to focus our attentions.

A prominent link between the keeping and tending to of houseplants, and positive benefits for our mental health, has also been identified.

And it’s the latter concept that has particularly resonated with one Manchester-based student.

Sam Garrington – a third year Environmental Science student at Manchester Metropolitan University – shares in the nation’s burgeoning love for houseplants to such an extent that he decided to start his very own “side hustle” selling them.

Alongside his studies, Sam founded the independent online houseplant nursery RootsNShoots from his Withington home last summer, and has been supplying homegrown, hand-potted and organic houseplants at affordable prices ever since.

His main aim was to provide people with “beautiful plants that will aid the aesthetic of any room”, but this start-up is about so much more than just selling plants.

“I want to improve mental health, without breaking the bank.” Sam told The Manc.

“We operate with small batches of plants that are rooted from cuttings and then potted, and customers receive plants in the adolescent stage of growth, which provides the benefit of being able to watch your very own plant baby grow up.”

He continued: “Since starting at university, I’ve wanted to run my own business on the side of studying, but kept putting it off and never took the plunge [and] to be honest, even though I’ve always loved house plants and have loads of my own, I never really planned this and kind of just fell into it instead”.

“It all started back in the summer of 2020 when I was gifted 20 spider plant babies.

“I rooted and potted them up, and then couldn’t decide what to do with them all, so I just posted about them on the main student Facebook page [Manchester Students’ Group], only expecting a couple of interested people to message me, but to my surprise, all 20 had been taken within half an hour and I even had people offering to pay for them once I’d told them that I’d already promised them to other people.

“This was the birth of RootsNShoots”.

Unsplash / Leonardo Iheme

And what a journey it’s been in such a short space of time.

Sam continued: “From there, I started potting up all the cuttings I could get my hands on and kept posting on Facebook until it got to the point where I needed to solidify my progress and start a properly-branded business.

“All my stock remains homegrown and hand-potted in small batches of whatever is available to me, but now I’ve invested in grow lights and shelving, as well as branded paper bags.

“I’ve even had people who went home to their parents for lockdown ask me to send them plants via the post.”

While the chance to spread his love for houseplants and their benefits among the student population, and eventually as far and wide as possible, is what’s at the heart of RootsNShoots, Sam is also keen to demonstrate and help fly the flag for young people with entrepreneurial spirit too.

“I really endorse the sense of community within the student population,” Sam continued.

“I believe we are stronger as a unit and I’m sick of the stereotypical view that ‘students do nothing but study and party’, when in fact, many of us pursue creative and entrepreneurial avenues to prove we are much more than just students”.

With the popularity of RootsNShoots continuing to develop by the day though, where does Sam see his “side hustle” heading in the future?

“In all honesty, I’m just taking things gradually and seeing where it ends up.” he admitted.

“I don’t particularly see this as a job and much more as a hobby.

“I love plants and want other students to discover the beauty of foliage, so at the moment, I see this as a way to get some extra money to supplement my loan and to help pay for my own plant addiction”.

He continued: “It’s hard to say where I see it going in the future as it’s so dependent on where I end up after graduating, but I’m eventually planning on launching an online store and doing postal deliveries, which means I can target a much larger customer base than just the students of Fallowfield.

“I’ve also recently started offering terracotta pots that are designed and hand-painted by my housemate who studies Fine Art at MMU too, which have turned out to be very popular and work well with the vibe I’m trying to convey.

“Regardless of what happens after I graduate though, I’ll always find a way to spread my love of houseplants”.

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You can find more information about RootsNShoots, as well as view the plants in stock and place your orders via the company’s Instagram account here.

Virtual jobs fair featuring thousands of North West roles to take place in April

A brand new virtual jobs fair featuring some of the North West’s biggest employers is set to take place in April – with thousands of roles available.

The online jobs expo, titled NorthWestWorks4U, will run over three days from April 6-8; with as many as 20,000 local jobseekers expected to attend.

Designed for broadcasting on the Jobs Live platform, the event is the first of its kind and has already generated considerable interest from big brands and businesses.

Among those in attendance are AO.com, Network Rail, the MOD, S & P Global, Engie, Kier, Greggs, North West Ambulance Service, NHS trusts, Eddie Stobart, TalkTalk, McCann health, the RAF, Booking.com and Sky.

NorthWestWorks4U has also gained supported from the region’s politicians.

David Rutley, Conservative MP for Macclesfield, said that the event would “go the extra mile by providing pre-employment training and recruiting differently by looking at the individual rather than academic qualifications or previous experience in a role.”

Jeff Smith, Labour MP for Withington added: “This initiative shows that despite the pandemic, there are still some great employment opportunities in our region.

“It’s great to see NorthWestWorks4U bringing the public and private sectors together to help people find work, and I’m pleased to support the event.”

NorthWestWorks4U is being held in partnership with DWP, Jobcentre Plus North West, North West Local Enterprise Partnerships and private sector employers.

The event is being co-organised and supported by TalkTalk and McCann Health.

Both employers and jobseekers can participate at no cost.

More information is available via the NorthWestWorks4U website

Uber Eats is waiving sign-up fees for new Manchester restaurant partners

Uber Eats has announced that it is to waive sign-up fees for all Manchester restaurants who choose to join the leading food delivery platform.

Takeout and delivery services have been widely embraced by local hospitality businesses in Greater Manchester throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – particularly during England’s current national lockdown.

For those looking to continue with a strong delivery offering into the future though, Uber Eats is here to help.

Uber Eats gives restaurants the “flexibility, visibility and insights” needed to connect with more customers, by enabling restaurants to either sign-up using their own delivery couriers, or with couriers who use the Uber Eats app.

The in-app marketing options available to Uber Eats restaurant partners also help to reach a wider customer base that they wouldn’t normally be exposed to, which in-turn, increases sales. Restaurants “turn customers into regulars” with the actionable data insights provided in the ‘Restaurant Dashboard’.

It also couldn’t be easier to respond to reviews or offer a loyalty programme to keep customers keen.

Piqsels

So, how does it work then?

Well, it’s simple – First, a customer finds your restaurant and places an order through the Uber Eats app, then your restaurant accepts and prepares the order ready for the delivery partners using the Uber Eats platform to pick up the order and deliver it to the customer.

You can get started in just three steps too:

1. Tell Uber Eats about your restaurant.

2. Upload your menu.

3. Access the ‘Restaurant Dashboard’ and go live.

For a limited time only, all Manchester eateries looking to become new restaurant partners won’t have to pay to join, as Uber Eats is waiving all sign-up fees until the end of June.

You’ll also get your tablet and photography session for free too, which would normally set you back £500.

Wikimedia Commons

This offer is available to first-time Uber Eats restaurant partners only.

You have until 30th June 2021 to sign-up.

Contact Manchester representative Laurence Thomas on [email protected] for more information or to sign-up, and you can find out more about the service and access some FAQs via the Uber Eats website.

Manchester media publisher BGFG on major recruitment drive after £1m investment

By Gamers For Gamers has over 30 roles available

Thriving Manchester gaming and tech publishing house By Gamers For Gamers (BGFG) has secured over £1 million in angel funding – embarking on a major recruitment drive as a result.

The local firm captured the imagination of several high-net-worth individuals during an investment round in 2020 – acquiring a seven-figure sum that’s funding significant expansion.

BGFG is now looking to attract a bigger team of talented people to its Manchester-based HQ – creating 35 multimedia and digital content roles in the process.

The firm specialises in PC tech, gaming and Esports news as well as reviews and tech advice – attracting millions of readers every month.

Founded in April 2019 by brothers Andrew and Craig Kirkcaldy and Will Blears, BGFG quickly turned the heads of some noteworthy entrepreneurs including Bill Holroyd – one of the original investors in appliances firm AO.com.

Founder of Usespace David Walter has also put money into the firm – with institutional investment coming from GC Angels.

According to BGFG owners, the funding will fast-track the firm’s growth and support its mission to enhance Manchester’s reputation as an economic powerhouse in digital and creative industries.

Co-founder Craig Kirkcaldy said: “Securing the angel investment is a massive step forward for BGFG as we approach the second anniversary of the business.

“Our growth trajectory has been incredible since we launched and that has enabled us to recruit some of the best people in the UK gaming marketplace.”

By Gamers For Gamers offices

BGFG currently employs 20 people but despite reporting a £545K turnover during 2020, growth so far has been self-funded.

Craig stated: “Pitching to investors is a challenge at the best of times but the landscape is very different under the various lockdown restrictions we have seen over the last few months.

“We found a specialist broker who was able to make the right introductions, which was very important to our success, and then most of our pitches were over Zoom.

“Pitching can be nerve-wracking but it’s all about preparing well, knowing your numbers and your business plan and sticking to the script.

“You’ve probably only got 15 minutes and you have to be concise and to the point and you have to stand out. You have to understand that the investor may be listening to 15 pitches a day so yours needs to be memorable – for all the right reasons.”

The BGFG pitches indeed proved to be a huge success – and an exciting future lies ahead for the company as a result.

“We have some exciting and ambitious plans for how to develop,” Craig explained.

“We have found some great investors who share our vision and see the potential in where we can take this business.”

To view the roles currently available at BGFG, head over to the company website.

UnitedCity launches free ‘Back to Work’ helpline to get workplaces COVID-secure

Manchester’s group of local business leaders UnitedCity has launched a free ‘Back to Work Helpline’ to support those not reasonably able to work effectively from home.

The campaign organisation has announced the new support system as workplaces prepare to reopen – providing additional support for employer and employees alike.

The helpline has been set up in conjunction with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) – who will provide bespoke planning sessions, free online surgeries and guidance sessions surrounding business travel.

UnitedCity was originally launched in November in an attempt to drive footfall back to Manchester city centre – a campaign endorsed by Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

A joint venture from Gary Neville, Chris Oglesby (Bruntwood), Lisa Morton (Roland Dransfield PR), Will Lewis (OBI) and Frank McKenna (Downtown in Business), UnitedCity has positioned itself at the forefront of conversations surrounding lockdown restrictions in Manchester – with the group previously installing billboards as part of a mission to change government-imposed tier rules.

The organisation’s latest move involved the launch of a dedicated helpline provided by BrightSafe (the health & safety arm of Manchester-based HR software and employment law advice firm BrightHR) – giving UnitedCity members exclusive access to their own safety advisers.

Members will also enjoy BrightHR’s free online vaccine tracker – VaccTrak Lite by BrightHR – allowing them to educate staff on vaccine benefits and return to work safely.

Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR, said: “We all know of individuals with wellbeing or technical challenges at home, and the Back to Work helpline, provided by BrightSafe, will support employers in responding to these challenges.

“We are delighted to be working with UnitedCity to provide an essential service to their members that will ensure businesses in Manchester return back to their offices and workplaces in the safest way possible, and ultimately help this fantastic city recover from the pandemic stronger and better for all.”

A spokesperson for UnitedCity said: “BrightSafe and BrightHR’s work will be absolutely pivotal in helping us to get Manchester back on its feet, and we’re very grateful to the team for providing this brilliant platform in support of UnitedCity.

“The pandemic has changed working life as we know it and adapting to ‘the new normal’ will be a particular struggle for businesses which have adhered to the working from home guidance since last March. We have no doubt this tool, as well as VaccTrack, will be of the utmost importance to our business community as we look to collectively achieve a safe recovery.”

Kate Brown, Director of Corporate Affairs at Transport for Greater Manchester, added: “Over the coming months we will be working hard to support people, businesses and employers as they start to travel again in line with the government’s roadmap to recovery and ensure they are able to do so safely and sustainably.”

The freephone numbers – 08007830321 / 08448920253 will be operational Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm.

Featured image: UnitedCity