The end of September saw over 90 distributor representatives head to Cedabond’s Product Awareness & Equipment Forum at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire to get the lowdown on the buying group’s suppliers latest developments. Catering Insight was fortunate enough to be able to attend the event, which comprised 22 30-minute meetings across 2 days, rotating from room to room around the hotel.
First on the Catering Insight group’s agenda was shelving and storage equipment manufacturer EAIS. The King’s Lynn-based company has a core of over 90 distributors. It is currently focusing on expanding its fabrications offering, as this has been a growing market over the past 5 years. It holds £1m of stock at any one time at its 60,000ft2 headquarters and emphasises its bespoke capabilities, including a major £2.5m spend by McDonald’s on aluminium removable shelving which the fast food chain recouped within 6 months.
Next up was Tunbridge Wells-based rexmartins, which has just launched a trade website for its extensive RMB cooking equipment series. The supplier is looking to go live on CaterQuotes with the range soon too. MD Martin Porter is aiming the equipment at the medium to higher end of the market and oversees quality control by visiting the specified factories around the world.
In the Rational group meeting the focus was on the closer integration of Frima’s multifunctional cooking equipment into the main company. Since the merger was announced, the UK head office in Luton has doubled Frima headcount, while Frima is adopting Rational service partners too. For the group’s well-known combi ovens offering the all in one Connected Cooking portal is making waves, as users can upload and download recipes instantly to any networked oven, plus the appliances can be authorised to automatically alert service firms if there is an error.
Foster and Gamko’s presentation highlighted that the refrigeration manufacturer has just invested £4m in a fibre optic laser cutter for its EcoPro G2 series production facility. The machine can cut stainless steel up to 9mm thick and is said to improve accuracy and speed. The firm manufactures using a ‘market rate of demand’ (MRD) strategy which means that around 60 units are always available, so the Kings Lynn factory can just replenish the number of units each day. Furthermore, one of its latest largest contracts is providing refrigeration units for KCCJ’s £2.4m outfit of the new Spurs football stadium in north London.
Next up, Middleby UK made the bold claim that it sells more hot catering equipment than anyone else in the industry. It certainly has a range of well-known brands to choose from, including Pitco, Turbochef and Houno. The firm recommended filtration systems should be specified with Pitco fryers, and that the brand’s curved piping ensures no fat build up. Middleby’s latest reveal is that it is now supplying Middleby Marshall conveyor ovens to the UK market.
For RH Hall, the forum gave the opportunity for the supplier to emphasise that it is a ‘solution-based business’ which can provide ‘the right person for any enquiry’. The firm has invested heavily in its fabrications factory which manufactures modular systems. Highlighting its iWave barcode-operated microwave, the supplier believes the technology can reduce wastage by automatically re-ordering certain dishes, and barcoded dishes can contain allergen information. RH Hall will also soon launch the next generation of the Covent Garden Soup Server.
Hobart split its session in two, with the Cooking Solutions division revealing it is about to undertake a dealer survey to further understand their requirements in the marketplace. The manufacturer believes it has suitable kit for all types of operations and budgets. The Warewash division is in the process of updating its undercounter Ecomax range. Its glasswashers feature rotating arms at the top and bottom for a better wash, plus moulded side tracks for the baskets. An increased height clearance means they can accommodate a double rack. New to the series are integral water softener options.
Hoshizaki presented its latest Snowflake GII refrigeration which is now manufactured in Turkey out of 304 stainless steel. The integral handle is designed to be more hygienic and robust. The -2°C meat cabinet is supplied within the range now too. The series will use hydrocarbon refrigerants from January. All products in the Gram brand range are aimed at the premium market and many are supplied with a 5 year warranty. Hoshizaki ice machines are also moving over to hydrocarbons, and more will feature integral pumps from next quarter.
Nayati showcased its Asian cooking equipment, which it is very well known for in its Asian homelands. It now has £1m of stock in the UK, especially on the highest selling lines, and offers its ranges with a 2 year parts and labour warranty. Furthermore it can offer bespoke island suites with a 12-16 week lead time. The manufacturer has just supplied these for two branches of The Clink prison restaurant, in Stayl, Manchester, and Highdown in Surrey.
IMC and Britannia’s joint session detailed how the factory merger from Leamington Spa to Wrexham has benefitted the ventilation firm by significantly updating machinery and systems. Britannia will be refreshing its product offerings over the next 12 months, starting in January. The new investments have industrialised the main core products and reportedly improved lead times. On the IMC side of things, the WasteStation waste management system is becoming more popular, particularly in the export market.
Concluding the first day’s meetings, Marco Beverage Systems has introduced the Mix T8 countertop water boiler. The manufacturer believes its units are 70% more efficient than competitor brands and has had them independently tested to reportedly verify this. The firm also feels its under half a degree accuracy is unparalleled. Many models feature a standard 3M filter, which means dealers and end users can replenish their supply through any 3M supplier.
Day two kicked off with Maidaid advising on warewasher maintenance, recommending that dealers encourage users to use softeners every week rather than monthly, and wash the machines with an internal renovator once a week. All of Maidaid’s models have a return valve fitted as standard, while the company also underlined that a break tank is required on a dishwasher by law. Additionally the manufacturer has made slight improvements to its Minirack range thanks to the factory responding to feedback.
Over in Moffat’s presentation, the firm was highlighting its heated and chilled grab and go display. Run off a single 13A plug, the unit features castors for manoeuvrability. Good insulation is said to keep the heating and chilling separate. Available in 14 colour choices, the default finish is stainless steel. Another new innovation is the pop up cooking station, based on the manufacturer’s well known Versicartes design. Featuring a two stage induction hob and a chilled well, the unit can be used for theatre cooking and can be customised with magnetic signs.
Valera showcased its new microwave range, comprising three models from 1,000 to 1,880W capacity. Towards the end of the year the supplier signalled that the highest output model will be rebranded as 1,900W. All models are designed to be easily programmable with a digital display and come with a 3 year parts and labour warranty. The supplier also emphasised that it sees distributors as partners and can produce marketing leaflets which can be modified depending on a dealer’s requirements.
During Instanta’s session the company revealed its UCD InstaTap hot water dispensers have now been WRAS approved and that its countertop boiler is currently undergoing the same process. The British manufacturer underlined that it designs, tests and builds all of its ranges itself and that every component can be replaced. As part of the Zip group, which specialises in the Hydrotap boiling and chilled water tap, Instanta now has a new owner, with US-based water treatment firm Culligan purchasing the whole group.
Wholesaler Blue Badger detailed that it holds over £1.5m of stock across two warehouses in the Sheffield area. It has seen sales of the Atosa brand rise, particularly in light of the manufacturer’s new Green refrigeration range. Blue Badger’s diversification into laundry equipment has meant it can position itself as a wholesaler for all needs. One of the latest products in this division is the Whirlpool Atlantis toploader range, with a 15kg capacity suitable for small businesses. The supplier will be launching a new website at the end of the year, which it terms as a hub of information for dealers to quickly find the products they need, featuring live stock holding and simple order processing.
Over at tableware supplier ARC International, the focus was on the new Arcoroc Disco Lounge tumblers, constructed from tempered glass and featuring an internal shelf for easy stacking. Furthermore the firm offered wine tasting in the Chef & Sommelier Open Up glassware range, which is designed to allow wine to breathe. The company currently actively trades with around 400 dealers.
Induction hob manufacturer Induced Energy used the forum to introduce dealers to its new QX range of economy induction hobs. The firm spent 18 months sourcing the range, which is made to its specification in China. Models include twin hobs, twin woks and a hob/work combined unit. Induced Energy’s high end range was recently installed in the Claire Clark Academy in Milton Keynes, and Nottingham restaurant Alchemilla.
At Craven, it terms itself as ‘the last British shelving manufacturer’. Its 40,000ft2 Knaresborough headquarters has aimed to make the manufacturing process as efficient as possible. Last year it invested in a robot welder to weld corner tubes to frames. It is said to be 12 times quicker than manual welding and creates a consistent standard. However the firm emphasised this does not mean its lost staff headcount – the technology has instead freed them up to work on bespoke products.
CED Fabrications highlighted that its recent merger with French firm Tournus Equipement means that it now has an extra 4,000 Tournus lines in its portfolio, including plate dispensers and serving trolleys. The fabricator is in the process of getting all of its hand wash basins to be WRAS approved, as well as producing BIM files for all its products. The company has a fleet of 11 delivery vehicles operating from three manufacturing and stock holding facilities.
Nisbets group trade supplier Uropa Distribution emphasised that many of its catering equipment brands can now be seen at sister division, the National Catering Equipment Centre, which recently opened as a ‘permanent exhibition’ in Bristol. In total, Uropa offers over 20,000 lines, and also has trade specific websites where dealers can place and follow orders, as well as checking the latest product promotions and trade price list.
Concluding the sessions was a joint presentation from light equipment supplier DSL and tableware manufacturer Churchill. DSL can supply KitchenCraft cookware and tableware, with new products including cast aluminium pans and casserole dishes. Churchill’s autumn collection includes Hints rustic stoneware, Raku contemporary pottery and Buffetscape displays.