Nearly three quarters of distributors belonging to CEDA are expecting business to increase over the next quarter as confidence returns to the market.
The association revealed that 73% of its members expect an improvement in sequential quarterly sales, reinforcing the view that buyers are releasing budgets again.
CEDA has been compiling the results of quarterly confidence surveys for a number of years as a way to gauge market sentiment.
Going back just over four years when the recession had bitten deepest, just 35% of distributors reported a quarterly improvement in sales.
The April 2014 figures show that more than 53% reported a sales improvement from the previous quarter. In fact, more than 50% of CEDA members have reported sales improvement over the last four quarters, showing exponential growth during the last year.
The CEDA surveys reflect a returning confidence in the catering equipment market with end-users spending on new projects and refurbishments that had been shelved or downsized.
CEDA chairman, Jack Sharkey, said: “Our confidence surveys mirror the wider UK economy’s return to growth and the brakes being gradually released on investment in quality foodservice equipment.
“Almost 70% of CEDA members are now reporting better year-to-date sales figures compared with the same period in 2013. This is great news for them and CEDA’s partners who manufacture equipment and supply additional services to catering equipment distributors.”
Drilling into the sector data, Sharkey said CEDA could identify a massive change in the proportion of private sector business coming to its members from contract catering. “In 2012, members reported it was generating 25% of enquiries, but that has rocketed to nearly 42% in 2014,” he said.
“The icing on the cake is knowing that just under 73% of our members expect their next quarter sales to be better than the previous one.”