Catering Insight Awards 2021: Distributor of the Year – Nationwide shortlist


The special Catering Insight Distributor of the Year – Nationwide honour, sponsored by Rational, recognises a major distributor which has completed mammoth commercial kitchen projects to a high standard, up and down the country, while still offering a personalised, sterling service, despite the challenges coronavirus has generated.

The shortlist is therefore:


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Airedale Catering Equipment

Airedale remains one of the largest kitchen design house groups in the UK despite the challenges of the pandemic, and the Bradford-headquarter distributor is pushing forward with an exciting growth agenda thanks to gaining Rubicon Partners as its investment partner this year. Already boasting a national maintenance proposition of over 150 service technicians, the new investment will help Airedale grow to the next level in terms of service offering, for both product and technology. The dealer is now looking to acquire complementary businesses that will broaden and deepen its services.

C&C Catering Equipment

Chester-based C&C Catering Equipment celebrated 40 years of trading in 2021, and this year expanded its sales team following a period of growth. In fact, the family business grew its staff roster from 65 pre-Covid to 70 now. Despite the pandemic, the company’s strong financial position stood it in good stead, and it adapted its ways of working throughout lockdown, winning its biggest ever project over a video call. Other major schemes this year included the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London and five concessions at the University of Leicester.

Shine Catering Systems

Having faced the challenges of the Covid pandemic, Shine responded by gaining major projects through construction contracts. This was greatly assisted by the adaptive strategy devised in 2020 and a view to proactively keeping its sales and estimating levels at full strength. The Newport-based distributor made major investments in further support roles to meet the ever increasing demands of its client base, with positions created for office management, document control and design information support. Furthermore, Shine made all its frontline employees available to provide support to its customers.

Space Group

Gloucester-based kitchen design house Space Group showed resilience during the exceptionally challenging trading backdrop. The company acted quickly to mitigate trading risk by launching new products linked to the pandemic, pivoting to sectors less affected by lockdowns, such as grocery retail, by launching micromarkets, and continuing to focus on understanding its customers’ buying behaviours and needs. It also maintained operations throughout. The management team used lockdown to analyse every aspect of the business and emerge a stronger, more effective organisation.

Vision Commercial Kitchens

Vision has continued to work on top schemes across the country such as Amazon Dartford, The NoMad Hotel in London and Manchester’s RHS Bridgewater, which is one of the largest gardening projects in Europe in recent years. The Heywood-headquartered firm has strengthened its design, service, projects and admin support teams, as well as investing in design technology such as new software to improve its 3D visualisation. It also engaged with its clients and suppliers to understand their challenges and develop new ways in which to fund projects and equipment purchases.

The winner will be announced at the gala ceremony on Thursday 18 November at London’s 8 Northumberland Avenue. Buy tickets to the event HERE.

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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