Catering equipment manufacturers continue to furlough facilities

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Catering equipment suppliers are putting measures in place to manage operations during the coronavirus outbreak.

The UK foodservice equipment supply chain is continuing to halt in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and its resulting national lockdown.

Among the latest sector manufacturers issuing updates on their operational statuses is Williams Refrigeration. It announced its King’s Lynn production factory will be temporarily closed until 14 April.

The statement said: “We have good levels of finished stock and spare parts to support key industries such as supermarkets, general health sector, etc. and our offices remain open to provide customer support, service and spares advice.

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“We are operating a normal delivery service wherever possible to support these defined sectors and are on hand to take your call through a small key support team.”

While sister warewasher firms Winterhalter and Classeq has also taken the decision to furlough most of its staff.

However, the business underlined: “It is our intention to continue to support vital industries and sites that provide key services throughout the UK and Ireland. These sites will include the health sector, care homes, supermarkets; and will be covered on an emergency basis. All of our technicians will be issued with the appropriate protective equipment and will be given strict operational guidance.

“We have a key support structure in place to help provide a continued service to these critical sectors, and we also have a skeleton staff available to assist.”

British company Victor Manufacturing has also temporarily shut its offices and three manufacturing sites in Bradford. The statement issued by MD Phil Williams detailed: “During this period, with support from the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme, we intend to maintain employment for all our staff.

“We will continue to dispatch stocked items throughout this closure, or for as long as is deemed safe to do so, to ensure that we can continue to supply to those in need during this time.”

Williams added: “Whilst the outlook during this crisis remains uncertain, Victor is a resilient business with strong growth credentials, and we are confident that we will be able to navigate our way through this event and return to growth when the economy recovers.”

Compatriot company Synergy Grill Technology also broadcasted on its social media channels that it will be temporarily closing its assembly operations until further notice.

The announcement reads: “We continue to operate with a small number of colleagues to support our customers, whilst ensuring we are taking all the necessary precautions to protect our team. We are still able to accept orders and make shipments, but our assembly capability will be reduced until such times as it is safe to re-open the factory fully.

“We have stocks of grills, so are in a position to serve expected demand that our customers may have, but some delays are possible, especially if our suppliers/delivery companies have similar shut down policies.”

Elsewhere, Celltherm Coldrooms tweeted to confirm: “Unfortunately, like many businesses we have had to close our offices for the foreseeable future for the health and safety of our staff and customers. Our reopening will follow government guidelines.”

While Hobart UK reported it has moved to the next phase of its crisis management plan, moving as many of its head office staff to their individual home locations and minimising service technician movement in the field.

The letter, signed by equipment division MD, Dave Riley, and service division MD, Keith Mackie, explained: “With many staff now operating from home with full connectivity to our planning and ERP systems, Hobart UK continues to be operational; our ability to sell, deliver, install, repair and maintain across our full range of equipment types is intact.

“Our service technicians can still provide nationwide coverage and our sales team is on hand to provide advice and guidance on equipment selection. Our supply chain for both machine and spare parts remains fully functional.

“Hobart UK staff pulled out all the stops to enable us to remain safe but available to our current and prospective customer base. Our priority will continue to be the supply and maintenance of equipment in healthcare, education, emergency services and food supply chain establishments but we are more than capable of supporting all customers if needed.”

Elsewhere, Valentine Equipment and Cuisinequip tweeted to say both teams are working from home, but will review its procedures during the pandemic as things are changing daily.

Wholesaler Interlevin Refrigeration also reported to say it is still operating, taking orders, despatching and delivering, but with the vast majority of staff now working remotely or staff at its Castle Donington offices being isolated.

However, its delivery service is having to move from dedicated postcode delivery days to a 1-3 working day service for UK mainland (Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm). Orders can be placed on the firm’s website, but Interlevin said it can no longer guarantee next day delivery.

Sister companies Foster and Gamko also updated the industry on their delivery service status, tweeting that from today (26 March) its SOS next day delivery will be prioritised for urgent deliveries to front line services such as hospitals and care homes. All other orders will be delivered within 72 hours.

At warewasher firm, Maidaid, it posted that it has contingency plans in place to carry on trading normally, saying: “Due to our large stockholding, we are able to continue to support you throughout this difficult time.”

It also confirmed that as it stands, it is dispatching as normal, with a standard cut off of 3pm for next day delivery, though with the caveat that this could change at short notice. Maidaid has also adopted a ‘work from home’ policy where applicable.

Scotland-based supplier FEM today sent round a message to its network to confirm that it remains operational with staff working remotely from home and a reduced skeleton staff in its warehouse. This means it is still processing and dispatching orders.

Catering Equipment Ltd sent round a similar update today, revealing: “All staff that can work from home are now doing so – our investment in IT and communications makes them appear as if they are in the office. Employees in the workplace are avoiding social contact and maintaining social distancing.”

As regards its Tamworth base, the message read: “You may collect an order but we are asking all customers to observe social distancing.”

Wholesaler Blue Badger posted a message on its website to say it remains open too. It will continue to support key sectors as much as possible, though most of its employees are now working remotely. The statement said: “Due to the investment we made in remote systems earlier in the year, we are confident that you’ll receive the same level of service when calling and emailing us.

“We still have a skeleton staff in the office ensuring that spare parts are fulfilled and that key services continue to function.”

As it has two separate warehouses in the UK which run on separate transport networks, this gives the supplier further options should one network fail.

Pizza Equipment Ltd also reported that it is open for business and can process orders online or over the telephone. It said it is working with a skeleton staff but that there are no delays to dispatching orders or making deliveries.

Catertherm posted on social media that its team is working from home too, while Yes Ovens reported it remains operational while its staff are being fully supported to work safely and effectively. It stated it will endeavour to keep its delivery times as fast and as reliable as it can.

The message further said: “Our technical support team are available as always and are working from home with calls diverted to their mobiles.

“We have spoken with our factory and we are confident that they have made suitable provision in terms of staff management and stock holding to continue to meet our needs during this difficult time and we have a range of ovens in stock.

“We have also made the decision to stop our live cooking demonstrations and not to invite people to our showrooms for the foreseeable future.”

There was positive news from the continent, with Hupfer UK tweeting that its factory in Germany is still in production, with extra safety measures in place and products are still being fulfilled.

And in Italy, spares specialist LF Group posted on LinkedIn that its warehouse and offices are also operational, as it works with some of the companies which have been listed by the Italian government as essential for the country’s production chain.

The firm stated: “Therefore, we are still able to accept and fulfil orders and we will support our customers’ every need, via phone or email. The ever-changing situation is being monitored constantly, and we will inform you immediately regarding any further changes.”

Tags : blue badgerbusinesscatering equipment ltdCaterthermcellthermclasseqcoronaviruscuisinequipfemFostergamkoHobarthupferinterlevinLF SparesmaidaidPizza Equipment Ltdsynergy grillValentinewilliamswinterhalter
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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