Simon Merrick has exclusively detailed to Catering Insight the key objectives for next year at his new company, Metro.
Having joined as European sales director at the Ali Group company on 1 December, he will be leading the shelving and storage specialist’s charge to develop its dealer network further.
“With my experience of the UK at manufacturers such as Enodis (now Welbilt) and Hobart over the years, I am going to try and accelerate the growth in that market,” he said. “We have got some business going through the UK but it isn’t enough, especially when the UK is pretty much the biggest foodservice market in Europe.”
Emphasising that Metro is fully committed to the distributor channel, he commented: “We have a strong presence with global chains such as Burger King, McDonald’s and Subway, but we really need to focus on how we get our products specified into local chains and how we approach the independent market.
“So finding the right distributors in the relevant markets is the most important thing for us to be able to grow. We are looking for companies who feel they might be good partners for us and our products.”
Merrick believes that Metro’s shelving, storage and food transportation solutions are “premium quality and industry-leading with regards to durability and usability”, adding: “It’s not just a shelf, it’s about a system that helps people. We are not going to be the cheapest so we’ve got to make sure that we continue to show our added value.”
One of these advantages could be the relationships Metro enjoys with other Ali Group brands, which could make a holistic specification easier. Furthermore, the firm’s main manufacturing facilities are in the USA and Mexico, with the latter opened to enable the business to continue to offer good value.
Merrick added that there’s no reason why the online channel couldn’t be used to sell Metro’s products. “We understand the challenges of internet selling but a lot of our products are simple to configure, so we can give opportunities to distributors trading online too.”
The company is also well known in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, laundry and retail sectors, and Merrick will be managing the whole portfolio, including a team of five salespeople. He will also be liaising with Belgium-based rep group Culimat, which represents other Ali brands across Europe too.
Metro has a European base in Holland and a head office is Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA, with Merrick already visiting both as part of his induction. And getting back into international sales was definitely on his radar after taking some time out of the industry in the latter half of this year.
He first met with Metro representatives Matt Fox, VP for international sales, and John Nackley, CEO, at the Host show in Milan in October to discuss joining. “I took my time and really looked for something that was right for me,” he said. “I’m excited about working within the autonomous environment of the Ali Group and I’m looking forward to developing a UK infrastructure for Metro.”