Rising demand leaves dishwasher makers optimistic

For every commercial kitchen that is built or refurbished, there needs to be adequate investment in equipment that keeps pots, plates and glasses clean.

It might be stating the obvious, but that won’t concern suppliers, who are just relieved that the improving landscape means there shouldn’t be any shortage of new business this year.

Warewashing manufacturers agree that the picture does seem to be getting better, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest it will stay that way, too.

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Confidence has been building for some months now and some of the key brands insist that this is reflected in the sales activity they have seen.

Maidaid says it has received a vast number of enquiries in the early stages of the year, including an unusually high number on larger rack machines, while Hobart Independent is also upbeat about 2014 after claiming that it recorded sales growth of 35% last year.

“Whenever I talk to our network of dealers, they say that the market is on the up and moving forward in the right way, which is tremendously heartening,” says business manager, Stuart Bester. “Looking ahead, we already have a good stock of orders waiting to go this year, so the market looks buoyant.”

Indeed, Bester admits one of the main challenges facing the company this year is replicating previous years of growth — “a good problem to have” — while he adds that two new members have also been added to its team as it seeks to strengthen sales of its BarAid and Ecomax dealer ranges.

Meiko says that the market for standard front-loading and pass-through machines has shown a strong improvement over the last six months in particular, sparking a 27% rise in UK sales versus the previous year. Project work for the larger machines, especially within hotels, also spiked at least 10% during the second half of last year.

Bill Downie, Meiko’s UK managing director, says the upturn hasn’t just been felt in full product sales. “In addition to strong growth of machine sales in the second half of 2013, the Meiko UK Technical Services organisation also recorded record growth of 10%, mainly due to group account customers buying into the ‘no-bills’ guarantee that is now offered by the company. Preventative Maintenance contracts also increased in 2013,” he says.

Paul Crowley, marketing manager of Winterhalter UK, thinks developments in the education sector could open the door to significant volumes of business for the warewashing sector in 2014.

He explains: “The upcoming pledge by the government that from September 2014 all children in reception, year-one and year-two in state-funded schools in England will be eligible for free school meals will put pressure on school catering operations to up their output and we anticipate this will have a knock-on effect for equipment manufacturers, including those of warewashers. In other sectors there is evidence of an increase in new openings of restaurants and bars, so the warewashing sector is optimistic for sales in 2014.”

While it seems as though things are heading in the right direction, warewashing suppliers know they have a fight on their hands to secure new opportunities given the level of competition now present in the market.

Winterhalter’s Crowley predicts that energy saving will remain the hot topic this year, especially as utility prices continue to escalate. Either way, it is a matter for the R&D experts.

“The challenge will be to produce machines that save energy while still achieving top quality and hygienic results. Our new PT pass-through dishwasher is the first warewasher on the market to be fitted with energy-saving heat exchange technology as standard. By capturing waste heat generated during the washing process, and recycling it to heat up the fresh water feed, it can save up to 10% in energy costs.”

All its competitors would also no doubt argue that they, too, are creating machines which are far superior in terms of energy consumption than anything they have produced before. Maidaid says its emphasis on energy saving has been going on for the best part of three years, paving the way for it to bring better and better performing equipment to market.

“The market place really should be monitoring the developments in energy standards as it will greatly affect their businesses,” says sales director Julian Lambert. “It is also very significant to the category because more and more institutions are heavily involved in energy saving as its importance continues to grow.”

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Bob Wood, sales director of DC Products, agrees that the battle to demonstrate sustainable excellence is far from won. “We believe that there will continue to be an emphasis on environmental factors, reducing energy consumption through technology and best practice,” he says. “We also believe that ‘value for money’ will score highly on purchasers’ agendas. This takes into consideration not only the features, results and the initial cost of equipment, but also the long-term running costs, equipment life-cycle and ongoing spares and maintenance costs.”

Meiko, meanwhile, intends to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to the fiercely-debated topic of energy efficiency by rolling out a special market offer. MD Bill Downie explains: “In 2014 we will introduce to the market a pledge to reimburse the difference between the running cost of our M-iQ rack and flight machines compared to the customer’s existing comparable machine should a minimum 30% energy and water saving not be achieved.”

All in all, it would seem there is plenty to be optimistic about, and manufacturers have certainly entered the New Year period with all guns blazing. Comenda, for instance, is one brand that has high expectations for 2014.

“We are continuously progressing as a company and only see the outlook becoming more and more positive each month at Dawson Foodservice Equipment,” insists the company’s marketing manager Glen Crossland. “The Comenda team are driven with a focus to constantly develop its portfolio of products and to never stand still. This in turn makes us more innovative, more competitive and more attractive to customers.”

Only time will tell if the positive sentiment is misplaced, but at the moment it looks as though warewashing suppliers have every reason to feel bullish about what the year has in store.

Suppliers push warewashing boundaries

The next 12 months will herald an important period for many major warewashing brands as they implement new product upgrade strategies and introduce improved technology to the market place.

Winterhalter, for instance, intends to roll out a new under-counter warewasher called ‘DeMatik’ in time for Hotelympia in April.

Full details are still under wraps, but one of the key features is an integral hybrid water treatment system that delivers close to reverse-osmosis (RO) standards of cleaning, but uses much less water than traditional RO systems.

Meiko, meanwhile, is gearing up for the launch of a new generation of under-counter glass, dish and utensil washers at the London show. The M-iClean series promises to deliver unique features that the company insists will set it apart from the competition.

Other brands are also planning big warewashing pushes in 2014. Parry, the exclusive UK supplier of ColGed, will be working with the dealer channel to market the latest washing stations and glasswashers from the ColGed range. It says their simple controls and robust build make them a natural choice for businesses looking to balance performance with value.

Sammic, meanwhile, is currently working on strengthening its range of glass and dishwashers. In May last year it released a new warewashing range, which led to a 45% improvement in sales. One of the key launches was a pass-through dishwasher with steam condenser, which has proved a popular addition.

Elsewhere, Maidaid remains pretty coy about what it has up its sleeve in the way of new products for 2014 but sales director, Julian Lambert, insists constant work is going on to enhance its offering. “There is the possibility that two new models could be launched in the early part of 2014. We will also be continually looking into new ranges throughout the year to build on our existing portfolio,” he says.

Comenda recently introduced the AC3 range of efficient rack machines to its portfolio and it promises further developments around the corner, particularly as it plans an expanded presence at Hotelympia.

For now, it is just keen to increase market penetration of the AC3 line. “The range is quickly gathering lots of interest due to the innovative features and benefits it possesses, including energy monitoring panels,” says marketing manager Glen Crossland.

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