Brakes Catering Equipment has organised plenty of events before but none on the scale of its recent Innovation Day at White Hart Lane, home of Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.
“This really is a landmark for us in terms of there being 40 core suppliers,” explains general manager Martin Hall. “We very much based it on innovation, so we said to those that we invited, ‘don’t just bring out the standard products that we show in our catalogue every week, bring some innovation to it’, and that is what they did.”
While the show provided a platform for customers to view new kit and engage with the suppliers in attendance, it also formed one of the initial components of a five-year growth plan that Brakes CE is embarking on.
A major part of that involves getting customers which currently only buy food products from Brakes to understand that the company can take care of its equipment requirements as well.
“It is really about raising our profile and the profile of equipment within Brakes Group,” says marketing manager, Tina Carter. “It is amazing really that given how many years we have been running, the Brakes name is synonymous with food. If you look at all the exhibitors at this event, we have got such a strong equipment offering by working in partnership with these people, so we are very confident that our growth plans are achievable and that we will make that happen within the next five years.”
One of the reasons Brakes remains bullish about its growth prospects is that the company believes the ‘one-stop-shop market’ is only going to go in one direction in the future. “We are already doing the food, in terms of groceries and frozen — why aren’t we doing the equipment and the supplies, the non-food items, at the same time?” says Hall. “It’s about one delivery on one vehicle with one invoice — that is the way we see the market going. And that is what we are endeavouring to do.”
Brakes Catering Equipment employs 40 staff and Hall admits that if the division is to increase its profile among customers currently buying food from the wider group, it is going to need the support of its food sales colleagues.
“It is fair to say that you could call [Brakes Catering Equipment] a sleeping giant,” says Hall. “At the end of the day, we are a huge foodservice company and have been for many years, but we now need to make sure our customer base is really thinking about us as a one-stop-shop, including supplies. In doing that, we are engaging with all our foodservice colleagues in terms of lead generation across the whole business.”
Brakes Catering Equipment is adamant that it truly boasts one of the most rounded offerings in the UK and it’s certainly hard to disagree when you consider how evenly its turnover is split. Almost a third of its sales comes from light equipment, a third from capital equipment and a third from scheme work, where it does everything through to the walls, floors, ceilings and extraction systems.
It is also positioned to be able to serve customers exactly the way they want, utilising its field sales staff, catalogue and website. Online sales have grown since the site was relaunched last year and subsequently enhanced in the summer.
Given Brakes CE is part of such a renowned group, it can be easy to forget that the division is an established business with a strong track record. “The growth of the business will be well over 20% this year. And in the five-year plan we are looking to grow considerably more than that,” reveals Hall.
If the company can tap into the reach and scale of its food business, you wouldn’t bet against it.
Name: Brakes Catering Equipment
Address: 3 Gloucester Terrace, Armley Road, Leeds, LS12 2ER
Tel: 0844 725 9494
Focus: Heavy duty equipment, light equipment, project design