Hopkins looks to America for new launch

Leeds-based Hopkins Catering Equipment has used this week’s National Restaurant Association exhibition in Chicago, USA, to launch a new range of fryers.

MD Victoria Hopkins detailed: “We’ve standardised some of the features of our bespoke ranges, including controls and burner technology, to produce a new frying range that’s ideal for larger fast food and restaurant chains. Approvals are imminent.”

The range has been designed with the Canadian and North American markets in mind, though Hopkins also envisages demand here in the UK.

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Sales for Hopkins are 40% ahead of target for this year and this follows a bumper 2014 in which the company’s turnover grew to £4.7m, an increase of 20% on the previous year.

Export sales currently account for 11% of turnover but Hopkins has identified potential in the North American market. Long term, the plan is to manufacture the new frying ranges under licence from a base on Canada’s Prince Edward Island.

“Potentially North America is an enormous market and just from the point of view of shipping costs and distribution, manufacturing ‘in market’ is the obvious route,” said Hopkins, adding that manufacturing for the UK and other markets around the world will remain based in Leeds.

The Canadian connection came about by chance when a British-born restaurateur opened a fish and chip outlet on Prince Edward Island.

Hopkins detailed: “The owner was familiar with the Hopkins product range, including our peelers and chippers, and shipped them over to Canada. Others restaurant owners quickly followed suit and demand has taken off from there.

“We’ve already set up a partnership – Hopkins PEI – with the local restaurant owner, identified a manufacturing unit and spoken to the colleges there about making sure the engineering skills we’ll need are in good supply.”

Online sales grew by 50% to reach over £1m in 2014 and sales have been strong in other markets including the Middle East and Australia.

Hopkins commented: “Our customers are investing again and it’s given us the confidence to move ahead with our own investment plans. This year alone we’ll be investing £150,000 in a new fleet, new manufacturing equipment and refurbishing our premises here in Pudsey.”
 

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