Catering equipment salaries feel the squeeze

If your salary has increased in the past year then consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

For while companies in the catering equipment sector have started recruiting again as conditions improve, research suggests that they have also taken the opportunity to try and bring personnel costs down.

Capable Consultants, an executive and personnel search specialist, has just released its annual salary survey for the catering equipment industry, and it reveals that while average minimum wages for key jobs in the field remain unchanged, maximum basic salaries have shrunk by 9%-10%. (You can view the salary table by clicking on the graphic in the top right of this article).

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Managing director, Kevin Robson, suggests it is a reflection of how careful companies are about investing in new resources. “Talking to companies within the industry we have learnt that organisations are taking headcount seriously and recruiting only for replacement or strategic growth,” he says.

The catering equipment industry has traditionally done a good job of retaining personnel, but Robson warns that employers can’t afford to take staff loyalty for granted.

“Opportunities are arising for those with transferrable skills, particularly at the top end. A sales director might now be just as happy to consider high-ranking board member roles within the facilities management, vending and food production areas if the opportunity is right.”

While the industry has to be wary of losing skilled people to neighbouring sectors, the good news is that catering equipment companies are successfully attracting new entrants from outside the sector at a faster rate than ever before.

“One in five appointments is a newcomer to the industry,” says Robson. “Again, trained personnel from facilities management, coffee, wines, vending and food production have been welcomed in. These new entrants have earned their spurs elsewhere and been selected for their transferable skills.”

One emerging trend is that many companies are looking carefully at their current teams and identifying ‘gaps’ to be filled.

“By steadying the ship, retaining clients and maintaining conservative growth, they intend to maintain their place in the market,” says Robson. “Conversely, there have been well publicised instances where bullish, aggressive takeovers have resulted in instability with a quiet exodus of key strategic, operational and sales personnel.”

On the other hand, meanwhile, fast-growing companies with organic expansion ambitions have declared their intention to maintain double-digit growth. This has inflated salaries as they have swooped on seasoned professionals from their competitors.

In conclusion, Robson says that basic salaries in 2014 are much the same as in 2013. Incentives, commissions and bonuses are less, but still “attractive”, he adds. “The attitude has changed for retention and steady growth rather than seizing opportunities.”

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