Tube strike fails to halt catering equipment show-goers

Catering equipment buyers defied tube strikes across London to ensure a healthy turnout of visitors during day two of Hotelympia.

Organisers had been fearing the worst after underground workers staged a 48-out walk-out last night, but some exhibitors today reported that traffic to their stand had even exceeded yesterday.

With the Docklands Light Railway unaffected by the strikes, those who could connect to that line were able to reach London ExCeL unimpeded, although the full car parks in and around the exhibition area suggested many people had shunned public transport in favour of the roads.

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In the main, catering equipment suppliers seemed satisfied with how the day went given the severity of the transport issue.

Stephen Ongley, national account manager at refrigeration manufacturer Liebherr, which is launching a new entry level range of refrigeration at the show, said: “The footfall was quite slow this morning, which was probably a result [of the industrial action] but by late-morning it really got going again, so we will see how it goes over the next two days.”

Jeremy Hall, business development director at Meiko, said: “Today has been good. We have got two new products out, a new under-counter range and our Green Eye technology on the flight-type range, and both areas have generated a huge amount of interest. Today has actually been a lot busier than yesterday, so we’re happy with how it has gone and we obviously hope it continues.”

Roger Flanagan, managing director of Universal FSE, the Baron cooking equipment importer, also said the tube strike had failed to dramatically hit numbers.

“We have not seen a shortfall in footfall although it does tend to come in waves,” he said. “We set ourselves a daily target of leads. That was hit yesterday and it was hit this morning, so we are on target for today. I do like the layout of the exhibition, I’m impressed with the way it has been styled and put together.”

Kim Devlin, sales manager at Vito,the oil filtration specialist, said: “The footfall has been strong today, but I’d say the quality of the visitors probably hasn’t been quite as high as we’d have hoped for. There seem to have been a lot of students in today, whereas we’re obviously focused on reaching the trade buyers. Overall though, yesterday was a good day and we’re having the right conversations with people.”

But Chris Davies, business development manager at Induced Energy, believes that most serious buyers with plans to visit the show have made provisions to get here one way or another.

“It is about quality not quantity,” he said. “Those people that want to come have come, which is what matters. There is not that same buzz as yesterday, but we have had some positive enquiries so I think we will look back on things at the end of the day and say it has been a good second day.”

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