A record-breaking almost 100 distributor representatives attended the 2017 CESA Light Equipment & Tableware Forum to see the plethora of products on display.
The format saw each group of delegates spend 25 minutes with each of 19 exhibitor companies, getting a brief overview of new product launches.
Representing 25 different firms, distributor feedback following the event, which took place at the Drayton Manor Hotel on 25-26 April, has been universally positive.
“We want to understand products and find new suppliers. The Forum lets us see hands-on what’s available in the market, and how it matches what our customers are looking for,” said Yi Liu from Cateringbase.
Deborah Segovia from Equip to Cook added: “It’s so much easier when you see products in the flesh, rather than looking at a brochure or online. Customers ask questions like ‘where is the on/off switch?’ or ‘how chunky is it?’. You can’t always tell from a picture. If you’ve actually seen the product and you know your client, it’s easier to know if it will fit.”
Donna Baker of Alliance said: “The Forum is great because you have time given to you, a dedicated 25 minutes. Broadening our knowledge helps us to be responsive to customer needs – both in terms of what products are out there, and who to go to for them.”
Brakes Catering Equipment’s Jodie Musgrove stated: “The format works well, it’s like speed dating – people really talk to each other.”
Her colleague, purchasing manager Brian Honeyford, described the Forum’s format as: “The future of interaction between suppliers and distributors.”
He added: “The 25 minutes with each company is bang on, it’s just enough to get the information you need. The value is in getting close up and seeing the products – products you might not know about – and finding out where to go to source something a bit different.”
Exhibiting suppliers were also pleased with the event and its opportunities.
“This year we had a lot more regional distributors, alongside the nationals, which is great,” said Vincenzo Gonnella of Row & Sons.
Neville Singer of The DRH Collection said: “It’s all about talking to the right people. We always pick up business from the Forum. It’s fantastic.”
Amy Manaton from DKB Household added: “The interaction is great, as well as meeting up with distributors, some for the first time, it’s a great way to discuss what products they are looking for.”
Stephen Goodliff, the chair of the CESA LET Group, was delighted with the feedback from both delegates and exhibitors. “There’s a continuing drive from operators to find something different,” he said. “The Forum helps sales people find the products their customers are looking for.”