Blackpool-based distributor Caterware used the last lockdown to reassess its 18,000ft2 Caterware House premises and to redesign the spaces more effectively during the period where footfall to its onsite showroom reduced.
Contracts director Simon Mallett remarked: “The moves towards online purchasing and personnel working more from home will only continue in the same trajectory, and we realised that our showroom and office spaces were now far larger than we needed them to be.”
He continued: “As we own our building outright, relocating to something smaller wasn’t really a viable option, therefore we decided to use the wonderful spaces we have to create our perfect business premises, a ‘Business Centre’ with all the necessary resources to cater not just for our own personnel, but also for customers and suppliers to use, and thus bring everyone together as one complete working unit.”
Accordingly, the showroom now incorporates an enlarged ‘live kitchen’ area, four times larger than the previous demonstration area, where multiple items of equipment can be installed. This enables Caterware to provide the facilities for us to host its customers who wish to use it for menu development or staff training and also for the company’s suppliers to hold larger open days and equipment demonstrations.
The upgrade includes a new bar counter to allow better interaction for cook-offs and demonstrations. The live kitchen can be set up in almost any format, as required.
The distributor also created a trade counter where customers can still visit, source, order and collect equipment rather than walk round the showroom picking it themselves.
Caterware’s sales, design and drawing offices have now all been combined within one large open plan office, which brings them all together within one extensive working space within the building and should also provide a more Covid-secure environment, with easier access and facilities for staff to work in the office or at home, should they want to do so.
Furthermore, previous department offices are being converted into different sized hi-tech meeting and conference rooms with large presentation screens, audio visual facilities and data points. These can be used for smaller internal ‘socially distanced’ meetings or Caterware can host larger conference-type facilities for customers and suppliers to use as they wish.
MD Mark Drazen summarised: “We thought the time was right during lockdown to upgrade our facilities. In any case, we have noticed over the years that our customers have become fewer, but much larger.
“Subsequently, we work much more closely with them and invest and integrate within their business and thus develop closer longer term relationships. It is a similar scenario with our suppliers, where we tend to have slimmed down the number we work with, to concentrate on the ones we know can perform and deliver, and have a similar customer orientated culture as our own.
“So, why not create a modern up to date environment which our customers and suppliers can also use? Indeed, the decision to upgrade is already showing dividends with a number of customers already using it to develop menus and train staff (one of which was here for 3 weeks) and we have also had positive responses from our supplier base wanting to use the facility to provide customer demonstrations.”