Ed’s view: Something in the water

Well there must be something in the water around the beginning of each year in the UK catering equipment industry, that’s all I can say.

Once again the carousel of personnel appointments has spun round and Catering Insight has been deluged by companies lining up to announce their new joiners – most of which will be more than familiar to the sector.

It always seems to happen around this time of year too, so I wonder when the conversations kick into gear? Does the Christmas break perhaps give individuals a chance to take stock and reassess their priorities and move on? Or do conversations begin before that – maybe meetings at trade shows are a key component of career progression. With Hotelympia having just passed, that could prove to prompt another round of announcements.

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Back to personnel, there were nearly 20 significant moves in just the first 6 weeks of 2018. From Nathan Bland jumping the manufacturer to distributor fence by leaving Unox to become sales director at HK Projects, to current CESA chairman Glenn Roberts joining Polar Refrigeration as global head of business, and Andrew Galeckyj’s departure from Britannia Kitchen Ventilation to True Refrigeration, it’s been a busy start to 2018.

But one common element to most of these announcements is that it seems to only be experienced sector professionals moving from one company to another. While of course it is a huge benefit for an individual catering equipment distributor or manufacturer to have a new joiner come in and hit the ground running in the short term, it is concerning that in the long term, this is not benefitting the industry as a whole.

We need more companies to see the bigger picture. If the same faces continue to be the only ones on the merry-go-round, there will come a time when many will simultaneously retire, and there will be a big human resources hole to fill. Aside from this, employing more people from outside the industry has a tendency to generate new ideas with fresh perspectives brought in from other sectors.

That’s not to diminish the vast experience in the trade, which of course is invaluable and vital to many firms’ successes. But if everyone collectively always employs a constant set of people, then the industry cannot progress. A mix of ‘old’ faces and new would probably be the ideal solution, even if some have to invest a little more in training to get new joiners up to speed.

Firms who look at an industry overview are likely to benefit themselves from innovation in the long run. And with further uncertain headwinds on the horizon, adaptability will be the name of the game to survive.

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