The UK catering equipment supply chain is continuing in its efforts to pull together in the face of the coronavirus crisis – the most serious the industry has ever faced.
But various companies and figures in the sector are doing their best to find the positives in this situation.
One of these is Chiller Box MD Marios Poumpouris, who took to LinkedIn to say: “We are in a ‘working from home’ pattern here at Chiller Box, but very much available if we can help with anything whatsoever.
“We are using the time to plan for the post-coronavirus period, which I’m sure will be busy as businesses get back to ‘business as usual’ and re-build on any damage done.
“We are seeing some of our clients cleverly re-invent themselves during this time in novel ways, focusing their efforts on delivery service and other food box options.”
On the same social media channel, Gratte Brothers Group, the parent company of Gratte Brothers Catering Equipment, wrote: “In these difficult times, we’re operating in a stage of ‘business as unusual’ to ensure the safety of all our staff, clients and partners. We’re grateful to our people for all their efforts to minimise disruption and to all our clients for their support.”
While British manufacturer Parry Catering Equipment is responding to the current situation by shifting its manufacturing focus from catering equipment to essential healthcare equipment, including hand wash stations and medical trolleys, as it revealed on Twitter.
Shelving producer Craven & Co also tweeted that it is still manufacturing at its Knaresborough facility, underlining that its workforce remains unaffected.
Catering equipment component supplier Oxford Hardware confirmed that while its staff are working remotely, it can still despatch orders for a next day service while its carriers are operating.
Ventilation manufacturer Quintex posted on its website that it is business as usual in the office “as we are lucky enough not to have had to implement a lockdown. That being said, we will be doing all we can to help those that need assistance”.
Its engineers are also dialling in and optimising the brand’s ventilation systems for maximum energy savings.
However, some facilities are still closing their doors, with Foster and Gamko among the latest to do so. Commercial director Rebecca Vincent wrote on the King’s Lynn manufacturer’s website: “We have taken the responsible decision to move to the next phase of our crisis management plan. This will entail running the business on a smaller number of staff in line with the demands of the market, whilst taking all the necessary precautions to protect our staff and customers.
“Our healthy levels of stock permit us to pause production from now until 17 April, whilst maintaining continuity of business in terms of product supply, distribution, technical service and commercial assistance.
“We will continually review the external environment and the advice of the government and adapt to market conditions accordingly.”
Elsewhere, although water treatment equipment specialist WaterCare has temporarily closed its production factory in Essex, it has assured its customers it is operating as business as usual with a small yet flexible team working remotely.
The company issued a statement saying: “As a British manufacturer, WaterCare has been able to maintain a high level of finished stock to ensure we are able to fulfil any request and despatch customer orders though subject to confirmation during these highly challenging times.”
WaterCare will also continue to support key service sites throughout the UK, which include the health sector, schools and care homes; all of which will be covered on an emergency basis. It has a limited number of field service technicians which have all been instructed to follow NHS advice and well as issued with strict operational guidelines.
Andy Slark, group head of commercial strategy, said: “WaterCare would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support thus far following the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Whilst we have put high measures in place, we are determined to continuously support our customers every need. The ever-changing situation is being monitored constantly and should there be any further changes, we will inform you immediately.”
Counter manufacturer Proline was hoping to continue business as usual but has now made the decision to temporarily close up the shopfloor. However, it was at pains to point out that all the Proline team are working remotely and are still contactable as usual. Its customers can still retrieve quotes and drawings as normal.
Pentland Wholesale has also taken the decision to pause its spares department operation until further notice.