First Choice Catering Spares has revealed that it intends to increase the volume and variety of refrigeration parts that it holds in future to support growing demand for such lines.
The Cannock-based outfit has traditionally specialised in commercial catering, laundry and beverage equipment spare parts, but the growth of its refrigeration category has convinced it to invest further in that side of the business.
First Choice recently recruited a dedicated manager to oversee refrigeration parts and ensure it can meet requests from customers.
John Whitehouse, director of First Choice, says that catering and refrigeration spare parts have historically been two very separate markets, but shifts in buying behaviour have made it a viable business for the company.
“Catering is very much driven around the OEM and around the right OEM part. Refrigeration is about getting it fixed. A lot of wholesalers like Wolseley, HRPC, Dean and Wood and RPW have got hundreds of outlets between them and people just go into these depots to get a controller, a fan motor and they just buy it there and then. We have come at spares from a different angle.
“We have come at it from the manufacturer front and said that we will stock all the manufacturers’ parts. Service companies have seen that while they can go to those other places to get their gas and controllers and compressors they can’t actually get the door shelves, the proper hinges, the right controller or the door gaskets. So we tend to get all that business and now we are saying, ‘well, if we get all that business, why can’t we also have the compressors, the thermostats and the components that you buy elsewhere? That is where we have sort of moved from.”
Whitehouse says that First Choice’s refrigeration business has grown two-fold this year, making it worth around 10% of the company’s business.
“There is a lot of potential, the market is as big as catering so if you think that we might do £20m this year, perhaps £2m of it will come from refrigeration,” he says. “Our compressor sales are going through the roof and we are carrying more fridge components. It is a competitive market but fridges have a lot of disposable components that have to be changed on a regular basis.”