Leeds cafe and university in branding row

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A bitter row has broken out over the naming of a new university cafe - with an old Hyde Park favourite accusing owners of intruding on their branding.

The Hyde Park Book Club, set up by two Leeds entrepreneurs, has proved hugely popular with students for meetings, exhibitions, and even film showings.

Now, as a new cafe is opened today in one of the central libraries at the University of Leeds, called The Book Club, owners say they are hugely disappointed as they feel it undermines their efforts.

“Anybody who has ever run a business can tell you it is difficult to build up a good reputation,” said owner Jack Simpson, whose cafe is also known informally as ‘The Book Club’. “The work to come up with a brand is work. It isn’t something that can just be borrowed.”

The success of The Hyde Park Book Club, says Mr Simpson, is down to their unique branding, influenced by trips around the world. When he heard the proposed name of the new cafe, he said, he was “utterly dismayed” and contacted the university to raise his concerns.

There are calls from customers for a boycott of the new cafe, and musician Joseph Moore, who set up the campaign, said: “It’s a shame to see such creative independent branding being so obviously imitated by such a large organisation. I can clearly see how it would harm the hardworking owners of Hyde Park Book Club.”

A University of Leeds spokesperson said: “We are aware of the concerns expressed by the owners of Hyde Park Book Club, but do not agree that there is a risk of confusion between the two different outlets – nor that this new cafe will harm their business.”

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