Britain’s got (catering equipment) talent

Just how important is it for end-buyers and catering equipment distributors to have access to kitchen equipment made exclusively in the UK?

It is a question that has posed itself following our recent piece shining a spotlight on some of the leading British-based manufacturers of catering equipment in the market today.

Regardless of where your allegiances lie, a vibrant domestic manufacturing scene can surely only be a good thing for the market, so it’s fortunate that there are still so many companies designing and building products here in the UK.

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Many have proud histories that date back more than 60 years and, more significantly, a good proportion are investing in their facilities and operations, confident of what the future holds.

The diversity of product manufactured in the UK is impressive. Everything from can openers and induction hobs to ventilation canopies and bespoke cooking suites are still built from scratch in British factories, even though the assumption is perhaps that everything has moved eastwards.

It is clear that the ‘Made in Britain’ message forms an important part of the marketing strategies of a number of UK manufacturers this year. Many are embarking on campaigns to highlight the fact that they build in Britain, positioning it as a statement of quality and reliability.

They’re also seeking to prick the conscience of customers that see value in buying British or who simply see it as a way to support their green objectives. Kit that travels from the UK, albeit the steel and some components will be sourced from overseas, will have a lower carbon footprint than something imported from the other side of the world.

One manufacturer I spoke to insisted that as the UK economy begins to recover, customers are becoming far more aware of the effects recession has had and are now, more than ever before, willing to support British brands as a result.

British manufacturers also argue that there is a perceived level of quality associated with British engineering and that communication barriers are unlikely to occur — and if the customer really wants to or needs to they can get to the factory pretty easily.

They are valid points, although I’m sure international brands and importers would quite happily form a convincing counter-argument. Their stance would no doubt be that a product should be judged on its merits — whether that’s price, functionality, availability or anything else — rather than the physical location of the factory it has originated from.

The reality is that every supplier and manufacturer has to earn their place in the market. But every once in a while it doesn’t hurt to celebrate the innovation and craftmanship that still emanates from the factory floor in this country.

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