With the free school meals initiative providing a boost to almost all its dealer and supplier members in one shape or another, Cedabond expects the healthy numbers it claims to have seen this year to continue for a good few months yet.
According to Barry Hallam, managing director of Hallam’s Catering Equipment and acting CEO of Cedabond, the buying group — which has been around since 1977 — is in good shape.
“On a like-for-like situation versus the same period last year [to the end of June] we are approximately 30% up on our sales and our projections are for an approximate 25% increase in the rebates that are distributed back to our membership at the AGM in 2015,” reveals Hallam.
He says Cedabond is more than satisfied with the half-year numbers and makes no secret of the fact that the UIFSM scheme has played its part in stimulating market activity.
“There are going to be supply shortages within the industry for getting everything done for September, so some of that business is going to roll over into October and the half-term week. We are envisaging good sales figures coming in for July, August, September and October.”
For those unfamiliar with the situation, Hallam was appointed acting CEO earlier this year after Phil Martin suffered an illness that put him out of work. No date has been set for his return yet, but Hallam said: “On behalf of the directors and all our members and suppliers, and obviously all his friends in the industry, we wish Phil a speedy recovery from his recent illness. He has been released from hospital and is now at home recovering.”
While the temporary loss of a permanent leader would come as a blow to any business, Cedabond has managed to soldier on in Martin’s absence.
Hallam says it hasn’t lost any dealers or manufacturers this year — it has only added to its supplier and distributor base. The total now stands at 62 suppliers and 74 members.
The most significant developments have come in the last few weeks, with Cedabond striking agreements with Foster Refrigerator, Marco Beverage Systems, Maidaid Halcyon and U Group. Regale Microwave Ovens will join the group from August 1.
Foster, given its manufacturing heritage and position in the UK refrigeration sector, is a particular coup for Cedabond.
“Foster Refrigerator has been brought on as one of the leading refrigeration suppliers within our industry and obviously they are a well-respected name within the catering market,” comments Hallam.
Marco Beverage Systems has been brought on for its Eco range of water boilers, which Cedabond believes is a good fit with dealers serving energy-conscious customers, while U Group comes in as a sundry supplier for backbar equipment, filling a hole that the buying group had in that area.
Maidaid, which this year celebrates 40 years in business, offers additional product coverage in the glass and dishwasher segment.
Is there a danger that Cedabond is now over-exposed in some categories, though? In refrigeration it already works with Gram, Valera, Precision, Project Distribution and RB Distributors, while in warewashing it has Comenda, Hobart, Sammic and Project Distribution.
“Bringing these extra brands on gives us a broader spectrum to be able to get out to the end-user and give the choice of the leading brands to our end-users,” argues Hallam. “There seems to be enough business out there for everybody at the moment.”
Meanwhile, on the dealer front, Crystal Catering Equipment from Aberystwyth and Broadland Catering Equipment from Norfolk have joined the group, while at least two more distributors were about to sign on the dotted line as we were going to press.
Hallam insists there are four clear reasons why dealers should join: to increase their income; to be part of an established organisation; to gain access to exclusive discounts; and to benefit from the networking opportunities it offers. He says the focus during the second half of the year is very much about consolidation and making sure that it engages dealers and suppliers.
“We are still actively seeking more suppliers and members,” he says. “Certainly on the supplier side, wherever we have gaps within our product range we will be looking to recruit more suppliers. And we are looking at geographic areas of the country that we haven’t got members in and will pursue good distributors within those areas.”