More to distributor growth than school meals

Catering equipment distributors are reporting a pick-up in the volume of work they are getting compared to last year — irrespective of the impact delivered by the free school meals scheme.

The government’s £150m investment in primary school kitchen upgrades is generally thought to be responsible for much of the market growth this summer, but distributors say it isn’t the only factor.

CEDA’s latest quarterly survey asked distributor members a specific question on how summer sales performed without the addition of ‘windfall’ business from the impact of the Universal Free School Meals scheme.

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And the results showed that almost 60% of dealers reported a summer quarter that was better than the same period in 2013.

It also said that the “majority” of companies are still experiencing a significant upturn in business. Almost 72% reported that the quarter to the end of October returned better sales than the previous quarter to July.

Director general, Adam Mason, said: “It is great to see so many of our members reporting positive results. The coming year will undoubtedly provide many challenges in maintaining this positive growth and CEDA will be launching a number of initiatives designed to increase sales opportunities and increase margins for our member companies to support them going forward.”

The CEDA confidence survey showed that business enquiries are still fairly strong from the private sector, but have tailed off slightly since last quarter’s survey peak in July.

From the public sector some 46% of the CEDA members surveyed had received more enquiries compared with the last quarter.

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