Three-quarters of catering equipment distributors say they have seen an uptick in public sector business over recent months as the universal free school meals programme has made its impact on the market.
74% of kitchen houses belonging to CEDA reported a higher level of enquiries from the public sector for the three months to the end of July compared to the same period a year ago.
The latest quarterly confidence survey carried out by the distribution body also revealed that more than 68% had recorded better year-to-date sales in 2014.
Adam Mason, CEDA’s new director general, said it was “really encouraging” to see a boost for public sector work and acknowledged that a “substantial proportion” of it was likely to be from UIFSM-related sales.
“We will delve deeper into the driving forces behind the upturn in public sector work in the coming months where we know additional work from the care sector is also keeping members busy,” he said. “A focus on the circa 25% who either remained consistent or dropped below their 2013 figures will also take place.”
Mason added that a strong outlook for the current quarter suggested the market’s fortunes were improving.
“Overall, we have to be delighted that the vast majority of catering equipment distributors within CEDA is reporting swelling order books, and with more than 70% suggesting that next quarter sales will exceed the same period from 2013 we can continue to be optimistic into 2015,” he said.