Inox Equip's grandstand finish

A kitchen design and installation project that lasts for 3 years is clearly not something to be taken lightly. So when Buckingham-based distributor Inox Equip was employed as the catering consultant for the refurbishment and re-development of Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena, it knew that it was taking on a mammoth task.

The distributor began assisting the overall project’s design team in 2011, advising on developing the arena owner’s (NEC Group) brief, increasing the capacity and the average spend uplift to support the business case, as well as designing the kitchens and restaurants.

The project’s tender documents were then drafted and issued to the market in early 2013. Inox Equip was further involved here, as it sat in on the contractor interviews, reinforcing the brief and ensuring the specification was policed and protected during a stringent value engineering process.

The brief specified that the ground floor hospitality areas and bar required updating as they were under-utilised in places. The priorities were to create a clear path for arena visitors to purchase food and beverages, focusing on sight lines and customer flow and opening up the arena floor for a food court-style operation.

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The design also included expanding the DP coffee outlets onsite, housing fast food restaurants and bars in an extended concourse and ensuring draft beer was available on the arena floor, concourse and mezzanine level one public bar.

Inox Equip was eventually awarded the outfit contract in July 2013 by BAM Construction and quickly set to work on the delivery of a tight 18 month programme in a live environment. The first phase was to introduce two new cold stores and two bars on the concourse prior to the removal of the existing public areas and the installation of a temporary marquee.

Installation was carried out by CKI, which Inox subcontracts the lion’s share of its installation works to. All labour was sourced locally in line with the directives from the main contract, supporting the local community and reducing the emissions of vehicles travelling to site. [[page-break]]

Over the rest of the period a phased installation took place covering: 120metres of food service/bar counters, 10 cold rooms, two fish frying suites, six UV bespoke extraction canopies, four bars, six food outlets, four ice cream kiosks and two fine dining kitchens. This required the installation of over 500 pieces of equipment or bespoke fabrication, as well as the refurbishment of the existing ground floor production kitchen.

Refrigeration was from the Foster G2 range and prime cooking was led by Rational’s new White Efficiency combi-oven. All extraction canopies were fitted with UV to automatically and continuously destroy organic material in the airstream. This helps keep the extract ductwork grease free, significantly extending the period between ductwork cleaning intervals and reducing the fire risk at the same time.

Access to building at times proved challenging. The equipment for the two mezzanine levels had to be delivered 3 months early as the hoist to building had to be removed to continue the glass façade. The distributor then spent a lot of time moving in excess of £150,000 of equipment to accommodate various trades before it could put everything into its final position.

Inox Equip’s director, Mark Kendall, commented: “The project was a milestone for me personally and Inox as it was our biggest project to date [in excess of £1m]. We were involved right from inception to completion, being employed as a consultant pre-contract and contractor during the build.

“One of the most memorable moments was the craning in of two bespoke frying suites across the Birmingham skyline.”

Given the size and complexity, delivering the scheme was extremely resource-hungry. A dedicated project manager was needed at least two days a week with the final push increasing this to full time for the last four weeks. Kendall was also involved in the client liaison, freeing up the PM to deal with site-based challenges and trade coordination.

However, the project was actually delivered 2 weeks early in time for the official opening, by Michael Buble, last December of what was re-named the Barclaycard Arena.

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