Catering equipment seller puts website up for sale

The owner of a catering equipment ecommerce site that has been trading for the past two years has put the business up for sale after deciding it would fare better under new management.

Jason Clarke set up www.belowtradeprices.co.uk in 2011 as an internet-only operation, selling a range of commercial cooking and refrigeration equipment.

In April this year he launched a showroom arm to the business under the name ‘UK Food Equipment Centre’ in a bid to expand the operation and attract caterers wanting to see the equipment up close before they used it.

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But he says the joint business just hasn’t taken off as he’d hoped, leaving him with no option but to close the Stoke-based warehouse. Having now decided on a career change, Clarke is looking to find somebody who wants to take the website part of the operation off his hands.

He said the potential buyer would get a fully-customised ecommerce system and a database of more than 6,000 catering products, as well as key accounts with the main manufacturers that have supported it.

“The setup is ideal for a catering company who is seeing their local sales fall, and wants an internet presence with a proven brand name and a proven custom ecommerce system that is capable of competing at the top and commanding the online market,” he said.

Having not worked in the catering equipment industry prior to setting up the business, Clarke admits it has been “a steep learning curve” but one that he enjoyed despite the outcome.

“The venture has not turned out the way it should have, mainly due to the lack of support we received for the showroom,” he said.

“Ironically, when I first started the website business, there was a huge negativity towards online only businesses, and manufacturers very much offering favourable terms to bricks and mortar businesses. Then once I decided to take a chance and open a showroom, very little manufacturers were willing to offer us display stock. It kind of left us in a chicken and the egg scenario.”

Clarke added that the challenges of making the model work had left him with the view that companies such as Nisbets, which have their own products in their own showrooms, had “got the mixture correct”.

He added: “If their bricks and mortar ventures are successes, I see a rapid decline for the other brands competing for the same range — they just won’t have the same brand coverage. On that note, I have to offer positive comments to some of the manufacturers and wholesalers who offer the same discount on their products, irrespective of any other conditions.

“This ensures a fair market in which everyone can compete and the companies that offered us this are the accounts that were profitable.”

As well as belowtradeprices.co.uk, Clarke also has the domain names www.blue-seal.com and www.caterequipment.co.uk for sale.

He said interested parties could make contact here.

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