Every foodservice site in the UK now has to be Covid-safe to operate. So with many venues featuring catering equipment front of house, how have these appliance manufacturers adapted their offerings, and how can this translate into sales for dealers?
Vital to many front of house set-ups are accelerated cookers, and even they are not immune to the impact of coronavirus, as Unox UK MD Gary Nunn posited: “Increased hygiene considerations will inevitably put a greater focus on things like cleaning programmes and automatic modes, but don’t forget that the increased requirements being placed on caterers are also putting pressure on profits. Any way in which end users can cut costs is going to be welcomed. That’s why I would continue encouraging dealers to inform their clients on energy savings, which is increasingly key to profitability.
“We know from experience that end users are also looking at maximising equipment potential, so any items like our Speed.Pro oven which combine the features of two or more pieces of equipment will inevitably prove popular.”
Unox’s Bakerlux Speed.Pro accelerated/convection oven recently received a software update which enables multi-time cooking on the unit. Plus the manufacturer has produced a new stacking kit which enables the Speed.Pro to be stacked with an Evereo Cube extended holding unit.
Nunn underlined: “This simple addition to the range gives caterers the option to combine the benefits of the Speed.Pro convection and high-speed oven with those of the Evereo hot refrigerator, which can maintain food safely at the temperature at which it is served and eaten.
“There is an argument here that it can save on cleaning too, by bringing together two or more pieces into one, compact piece of equipment. With regular and intensive cleaning programmes now a pre-requisite in any kitchen, this could make a significant difference when calculated throughout a week or month.”
Welbilt is also emphasising cleaning, with its Convotherm combi oven automatic cleaning system. UK and Ireland sales director Steve Hemsil asserted: “One of the key Convotherm features that dealers should be emphasising now more so than ever is ConvoClean: our innovative, automatic cleaning system which minimises the difficulty, risk and time-consuming nature of cleaning an oven by hand.
“Available as standard with many of our popular front-of-house Mini Series models, the ConvoClean system allows operators to achieve optimum hygiene with ease. With four selectable cleaning levels available, our ConvoClean systems truly caters for every usage profile, from light to heavy use, and we also have a steam-disinfection cycle to ensure a truly clean oven.”
The manufacturer has continued its dealer assistance during the pandemic, with Hemsil detailing: “In order to support dealers that are looking to grow their sales of front of house equipment, Welbilt UK has announced various added value incentives such as hosting online webinars and live customer demonstrations/masterclasses.
“In order to make these customer support elements possible, we made the decision to re-open our development kitchens in Guildford and Sheffield back in June, but with some virtual, new twists and stringent health and safety measures – the most notable being that no dealers will physically be able to enter the kitchens. Instead, members of the UK culinary team will use these kitchens as a base for assisting dealers via video link, providing product support and advice over video calls – support and advice which will help dealers to effectively up-sell the Welbilt range of front of house equipment.”
Many foodservice sites will want to maintain a water dispenser offering, but with diners themselves often operating these units, how can hygiene be assured?
Hoshizaki believes it has come up with the solution. UK national sales manager Roz Scourfield detailed: “In reaction to the pandemic, we have been helping operators to minimise touchpoints and improve hygiene within their operation by offering a wide range of self-serve DCM water dispensers.
“Our DCM dispensers once again excel from this front thanks to the inclusions of a unique, new lever design which prevents the lip of the cup/glass touching the machine, thus minimising the risk of bacterial transfer.”
Suitable for front of house environments, Hoshizaki DCM dispensers can help to keep customers hydrated, and eradicate the need for hands-on contact with ice/water. Scourfield added: “This is because each Hoshizaki DCM water dispenser features a clever LED system which allows the user to refill their cup/glass with ease. This is done by resting your cup/glass against the lever and pressing the water button to start; seconds later, and your high quality, Hoshizaki refreshment is ready.
“There’s no question that hygiene is under a magnifying glass at this time, hence why now it is more important than ever for venues to ensure their catering equipment is up-to-scratch from a hygiene point of view. It is therefore important that dealers encourage operators to prioritise hygiene-led features when it comes to making a new front of house investment.”
At beverage dispenser specialist Zerica, it too has innovated to adapt to the new climate by developing Covid-safe touchless solutions in three ways: foot control, a mobile app for touchless dispensing and contactless buttons.
The new point-of use (POU) Futura Pedals dispenses when a foot pedal is depressed, and feature an auto diagnosis system which monitors key components and signals when it is time to replace the filter. It also uses Zerica’s Silver Turbo Clean cooling system, designed for hygiene. Retro-fit pedal kits are also available for existing units.
All of Zerica’s touchscreen models have been upgraded to work with the Zerica app, allowing consumers to select drinks without touching the screen. Key models that use the app are the slim countertop ‘Tap’ dispensing Kolumna; the countertop, high throughput Sikélia, and the self-contained, freestanding Kemonia. These models can also function with Zerica’s new contactless buttons, which require the user to hover their finger close to the button and the machines will dispense on demand.
UK business development and account manager Gemma Tuxford said: “Zerica has always worked closely with dealers to better understand the emerging needs of the water cooler market. The Covid crisis has highlighted just how responsive Zerica is. At incredible speed, Zerica has redesigned, adapted and upgraded the whole portfolio to bring to market a truly remarkable range of touchless Covid-safe solutions to meet end customer requirements across the board.”
In the heated merchandiser segment, Nuttalls brand Flexeserve feels that one of its latest models, the Flexeserve Zone Rear Feed, is well-suited to the new normal. Launched at EuroShop 2020, it allows users to restock hot food-to-go from behind the counter. This should remove the need for staff to access the units from the shop floor during opening hours, assisting with social distancing.
Flexeserve customer experience director Warwick Wakefield underlined: “Achieving effective food security requires attention to a number of aspects of a hot food operation. The combination of our technology and packaging is absolutely fundamental. With Flexeserve Zone, you are creating a safe, hygienic solution by hot holding pre-packaged food, which eliminates the opportunity for it to be contaminated when on display.”
He added: “We can help our distributors to recreate our Flexeserve solution – whether advising them with expertise or extending invites to their customers to utilise our Foodservice Innovation Centre. Here, we help their customers to test new hot food-to-go concepts and refine the five key elements necessary for true hot-holding – product, cook method, packaging, in-store service and our unique technology.”
Elsewhere, Williams’ range of merchandisers have been designed with ease of maintenance in mind. The cabinet is made from stainless steel, which can be kept hygienic without requiring abrasive chemicals, with removable shelves that should make regular cleaning easier. Other features like the front accessible condenser also help with maintaining the equipment.
Sales and marketing director Malcolm Harling commented: “With many businesses having to work with reduced staff numbers and increased hygiene requirements, emphasising how choosing equipment designed with simple maintenance procedures in mind can help meet the new demands the pandemic has imposed on everyone.”