Mareno’s Grande Italian adventure

Mareno’s production facility in Mareno di Piave.

The last 12 months have been somewhat unsettled for Italian cooking equipment manufacturer Mareno in the UK. Along with its stablemates, Rosinox, Comenda, Lainox and Rendisk, the company had to find a new route to market in this country, after parent company the Ali Group decided to close UK supplier, Dawson Foodservice Equipment, in May 2017.

But the search for a new home didn’t take long, as in September it was announced that Milton Keynes-based firm Grande Cuisine would take over the UK supply. It was a step welcomed by Michele Romano, export sales director at the Mareno di Piave-headquartered manufacturer: “Mareno has been in the UK market for over 50 years and the main target was to guarantee continuity.

“The move is positive because Grande Cuisine is really recognised in the UK and it delivers first class cooking ranges. The company knows the market well and has a very good relationship with dealers and consultants.”

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He reported that UK dealers have been happy to pass their information onto Grande Cuisine and that the supplier’s senior staff, Steve Hobbs and Graham Russell, are also giving great feedback about the national market and its distributors to Mareno. “I first met Steve last year and we immediately had a very good understanding,” he said.

In the gap between the local supplier appointments, Mareno turned to specialist maintenance firm and fellow Ali Group company Serviceline to service its existing appliance installations and carry out warranty calls. “Thanks to the support given by Serviceline we were able to manage and solve any service issues,” said Romano.

The servicing company will continue to support all warranty and contract customer requirements for appliances purchased through Dawson, with Mareno providing a 2 year warranty on all appliances.

But new equipment sales are now supported by Grande Cuisine, with Romano detailing: “We are now working to train Grande Cuisine’s service managers and their freelancer network to enable them to offer servicing to dealers across the UK. Some dealers also have their own service department, so together with Grande Cuisine we will pass the required training onto them too.”

This attention to detail is also very much in evidence at Mareno’s Italian headquarters, where across two nearby facilities it manufactures all of its catering equipment. The firm weaves precisely automated manufacturing with multiple, fully manned production lines – with each appliance personally signed off by one of its highly trained technicians – at its 22,000metre2 factory.

Furthermore, it has had an onsite testing lab since the company’s founding at its current headquarters in 1962. This enables Mareno to invite certification agencies to the premises to perform CE testing, and if any modifications are required, the manufacturer can then quickly carry them out.

The manufacturer’s onsite showroom showcases its cooking suites.

Its warehouse stock-picking is equally as impressive, utilising the huge investment of a ‘pick to light’ system, which automatically calculates the most efficient order for operatives to pick stock and displays a light at the location of the next item on the list. Operators then have to scan a barcode after each pick to confirm it has been carried out.

High technology is in evidence within Mareno’s latest launches, as it recently introduced iChef cooking ranges to the UK. These are fully touch-controlled, with no mechanical buttons or knobs. The innovation is said to enable very precise temperature control, and reduce energy consumption by a claimed 8%, though this can rise to as high as 50% when paired with Mareno’s Control Cooking System and electric power control system, Power Guardian.

The touchscreen’s bright display panel is should always be clearly legible, under all lighting conditions, so anyone working in the kitchen can keep track of a unit’s current operational status.

Romano revealed: “The response to the iChef following its official launch at Hotelympia was very positive, because the dealers and consultants are realising the iChef’s advantages. It reduces electrical consumption and improves the kitchen environment, as chefs don’t waste any heat when they operate it.

“We can also introduce new cooking appliances which we couldn’t offer with traditional electric cooking lines.”

Romano hinted at what the first of these new lines would be, revealing that Mareno will be launching a series of high capacity fryers in the UK through Grande Cuisine from this September. “We will be entering a new market with the high performance fryers, which have several advantages and options that we didn’t have before. This gets us into the fast food chain sector.”

He explained that the new range will be available in three options for both gas and electric models. The basic model comes with a high capacity deep fry mode, while the intermediate option features built-in oil filtration to extend the life of the oil. The top of the range also includes a built-in oil delivery and basket loading system to be able to automatically adjust the cooking time.

Dealers and end users in the UK may not realise that Mareno doesn’t only manufacture cooking equipment at its Italian base. It also produces fabrication and refrigeration appliances, though they are not currently available over here. “The sky’s the limit for new products,” said Romano. “We have 30 different product lines thanks to the synergy with the Ali Group, so we can supply any professional kitchen almost from scratch. There is really no limit to our cooperation with them.”

He believes that Mareno supplies a superior service by, for example, having all of its equipment available as BIM models, as well as an imminent return to the Caterquotes quotation software platform.

With exports making up nearly 60% of the manufacturer’s revenue, Romano is keen to boost the UK’s relative proportion of this total. “We consider that we’ve reset the whole UK market, because in the past it was one of the most important export regions for Mareno. The target is to get back to that level, but we cannot expect an explosion; we will do this step by step.”

Nowadays the UK comprises between 4-5% of exports, whereas previously it was almost 10%. Romano is hoping that within a 2-3 year timeframe it will recover to its previous rate.

He concluded: “Now we have to invest in the relationship with Grande Cuisine, visit the market more frequently, and bring more dealers to our factory. Follow Mareno in the UK market because there will be a lot of fun!”

Pick of the parts

Mareno is one of the beneficiaries of Ali Group’s centralised parts division, which supplies nine of the group’s brands from its base outside Venice. The facility opened a couple of years ago, with 18 months of prior planning informing its launch.

With 12,000 active part numbers provided, the 2,000metre2 warehouse has over 90% availability of Mareno parts, a number which has been steadily increasing from the 72.9% of March 2016. Kristian Fedri, Ali’s parts and service director, commented: “I’m sure that this is an advantage for Mareno customers, and we are still looking to improve the total.” It supplies spares up to 10 years old before they are phased into obsolescence.

Ali Parts can provide a next-day delivery service to the UK with a 2pm UK time cut-off. Its average order to delivery time is currently 2.7 days, much reduced from 7.8 days recorded in 2015. This is partially due to a new master data system for parts which displays a KPI dashboard, and the dedicated parts sourcing and planning team who use the warehouse management system to organise and stock parts in the most efficient and accurate way, using barcoding.

The information ties into the ‘My Mareno’ dedicated portal on the manufacturer’s website for dealers and other sales partners. Personnel can download product documents, manuals leaflets, BIM models and exploded views, which detail each part when clicked on individually.

The portal also allows engineers to check stock availability in real time, view prices and directly confirm parts orders. It further includes a monthly newsletter for engineers which covers technical queries, new products and assembly instructions.

Coming up this month, all of the portal functionalities will be available on a new ‘My Mareno’ app, which will also feature a reader that engineers can use to scan parts’ QR codes and instantly display their technical information.

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