Bouncing Czechs

With talk of a possible double-dip recession refusing to go away, now might not be the most fitting time for an overseas manufacturer to want to crank up its business in the UK market.

But ongoing concerns over the direction of the economy do not seem to have deterred Czech combi oven brand Retigo from rekindling its interest in the market.

Over the years Retigo has supplied product into the UK through a handful of loyal dealers, but it has tended to be on an infrequent and unstructured basis, which is why it is now taking its sales and distribution by the scruff of the neck in a bid to expand the business.

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The company recently appointed Adam Robertson to run the operation and he knows Retigo’s offering inside out having most recently worked for the brand’s biggest UK dealer Gratte Brothers. He also spent seven years at Hobart in a London-focused sales and demonstration role.

Robertson is tasked with finding distribution partners as Retigo bids to go from selling 40 units a year in 2012 to a couple of hundred within the next two years. He doesn’t have a specific number of partners in mind, but suggests Retigo is prepared to work with however many parties it takes to meet its volume goals.

Although the 110-strong company has been around since 1994 — and also manufactures regenerators, blast chillers and beverage machines — Robertson admits the immediate task he faces is introducing the brand to those who might not be familiar with it.

“It is about making people aware of it as much as anything else,” he admits. “At the moment I am just banging away on the phone, ringing around, telling people we are in existence and how it sits in the market. About 50% of the people I speak to have heard of it or are aware of the name and the other 50% haven’t heard of it at all, so it is a case of raising the profile.”

While Retigo finds itself pitched into one of the industry’s most competitive sectors, Robertson insists the brand can bring something different to the table — and at a more attractive price point than its rivals.

“We are using very proven technology with a few unique twists in the manufacturing process, but the main thing is it is made in the Czech Republic, which is a country known for manufacturing,” he says.

“As the Czech Republic is out of the euro, the manufacturing costs are considerably lowered. So you have the same technology as in the German-manufactured machines, but you are getting it for less just because the overheads of the factory are less. We are not being cheaper by using cheaper materials or by cutting corners in other areas, we are cheaper because the cost of living in the Czech Republic is lower. From that point of view it is an advantage, at the moment, to bring things in on Czech koruna as opposed to the euro.”

Although Retigo does not carry stock in the UK at present, popular models held at its Czech factory can be delivered to the UK within three days. And despite the entrenched competition it faces, the firm will be hoping the orders soon start coming thick and fast.

Key credentials

Retigo says key features in its combination ovens include:

– Control touch panel
– Curved glass door with cooldown function
– Hygienic cooking chamber with rounded inside corners
– Cooking chamber illumination by means of halogen lights
– Double glass door to limit heat escape
– Run-off tray for collecting water
– Water saving system to prevent high water consumption
– Integrated shower for ease of cleaning
– Automatic diagnostic system

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