Catering hire firm speaks out after Watchdog exposé

Allens Catering Equipment & Furniture Hire has backed the need for industry accreditation after the latest episode of Watchdog exposed a catering supplies firm for leaving clients high and dry by failing to supply items on time.

Allens, one of the leading players in the hire space, said the surest way for users to choose the right catering equipment hire company was to look for Safehire accreditation.

It spoke out after the BBC’s Watchdog team was called on to investigate the practices of a London-based catering provider after customers were left without the products and services that they had paid for in good faith.

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The programme told how the organisation had failed to get products to the customer in time, or only turned up with parts of what was required or inadequate substitutes without notifying customers in advance.

Kevin McGuinness, managing director of Allens, said the incident had highlighted the importance of choosing a qualified catering equipment hire supplier.

“The Watchdog investigation is potentially very damaging for the whole industry because nobody wants to be left stranded without the equipment that they require for their events particularly with special celebrations such as weddings or significant birthdays or very important commercial events.

“A very good point raised in the documentary was about the difficulty of being able to manage stocks if everything hired out does not come in when expected, but a good reputable company should be able to monitor their situation in advance; and be able to buy in to make up shortfalls or offer alternatives to ensure that nobody is let down at the last moment.”

McGuinness said that reputable companies within the industry were likely to be members of the Event Hire Association, which has created the industry standard known as ‘Safehire’.

In order to achieve Safehire accreditation, businesses must use a quality management system which can be monitored and independently audited every year, he said.

Only if the company can demonstrate that they have implemented practices to address business risks and opportunities in equal measure can they retain the Safehire accreditation.

More details of Watchdog’s investigation into the catering supplies hire market can be found here.

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