Two years ago, New Zealand-based display counter manufacturer Cossiga decided that the booming UK foodservice market could deliver further success to a company which was already established for over 20 years.
With 6 years of cracking the Australian market behind it, the firm had worked closely with café chain, Esquires Coffee. So when Esquires started to move into the UK, Cossiga jumped at the chance to join them. The manufacturer’s sales director Grant Horne spent around a year and half researching the UK market, in particular distributors, and found that local representation on the ground was definitely needed.
Therefore in October 2015, Jack Rice was brought onboard as UK and Ireland sales manager to kickstart these countries’ business. Using his market knowledge from his time at Counterline, he demonstrated example projects in New Zealand and Australia to show distributors what Cossiga is capable of and to get them to understand how the displays look in situ. Then as the number of sites grew in the UK, he could take customers there to showcase the units directly.
Initially working from home, Rice oversaw partnerships with stockholders for the displays’ supply, firstly with Cold Service in Bournemouth. However, as he was based in Liverpool, this proved a logistical challenge and so the firm switched to Hadfield’s Transport, based in Manchester.
As sales grew, just a year later Becky Johnston was hired as operations manager. As Rice had worked with her at Counterline, he was confident that she had the experience to organise deliveries, service calls and stock levels, freeing him up to visit as many sites as he could. “Once the sale’s been made, I call in to make sure everyone’s happy with the functionality, the operations of the display and to understand how to clean and maintain it.”
The business subsequently grew even further, and so a permanent base was then required. “We found that it was going to be ideal for Becky and I to have a base local to where we live and to be able to provide the day to day supply of the displays and information as and when customers require it,” said Rice. So in September this year, Cossiga UK set up a facility in Liverpool. This had the added benefit of being near Mersey Catering Fabrications, which can make changes or add extra features to the products if required.
All of Cossiga’s displays are manufactured from its factory in Guangzhou, China. As the chilled displays are not allowed to be gassed before they are flown to the UK, Mersey can now visit the UK offices to carry this out. The manufacturer would prefer to sea freight its units, but initially with a 6 week lead time, it has had to use air transport to meet client demands. However, it has now analysed the trends in required displays and is stocking more accordingly so that it can switch back to sea shipment.
Currently the UK office stocks between 100-150 displays at any given time, and is looking to up that level further in 2018. There is also the option to add a mezzanine level on site to further increase capacity.
Furthermore the site houses a showroom section, which has already played host to distributors in the few months it has been open. “The dealers brought existing and potential customers in with them, so it was a great opportunity to showcase displays they could be looking for in new sites,” detailed Rice.
The Chinese base includes a CE-certified test facility, which allows Cossiga the autonomy to test and develop new products to CE standards. “I’ve been to the factory twice and they have an impressive infrastructure there,” Rice commented. “They work on a lean process model, so each display starts life as a framework and works its way through to the test laboratory.”
Overall, the manufacturer regularly works with around 10 distributors in the UK, including ABDA, Airedale, CDS Wilman, Swift, Vertex Scotland and Space Group, and more in Ireland.
The manufacturer provides a user manual as part and parcel of its displays. “In there is a graph system we connect to the displays. It shows what the temperature is, whether the cabinet is chilled or heated, and how it has progressed through a 12 hour cycle. Having that back up and support proved really useful for me to get customers to give me a chance on the first project,” said Rice. “The results have been fantastic, because once the customers have the displays installed they get very few issues with them and they then have confidence in us.”
Cossiga has found its square glass profile displays are by far the most sought after. According to Rice: “They have a great streamline effect when they are pushed together, plus they have more space to advertise on the top and hold ambient products inside.”
Overall, the company produces around 20 lines, and factoring in size variants, this works out as around 80 models. Rice reported the most popular are freestanding chilled and heated displays, and the Linear line is ramping up for servery counters and delis. In the pipeline is the La Patisserie range, with a trendy low profile square look, which should be available in stock by January.
“Cossiga offers a product in the market which is a similar price to our British competitors but at a higher specification,” believes Rice. “We’ve got double gazed heated glass, which helps eradicate any condensation build up, and we use LED lighting as standard throughout our product range. We’ve got high spec refrigeration, functioning at higher ambient temperatures, as we work in various different locations around the world.
“Plus a lot of our customers say they sell a lot more products from our displays because of how they look visually and promote the products and merchandise inside.” The manufacturer also offers units in various RAL colours, and vinyl wrap options are available.
Rice added: “We are looking to be as green as possible, so this goes from the recyclable cardboard packaging through to trying to go as paperless as possible. It comes through in our products as well, so the LED lighting within the displays reduces energy consumption at site level.”
For warranty calls in England and Wales the firm uses several engineering firms to cover a 24-48 hour callout service, with warranties in Scotland and Ireland being parts-only.
“We work closely with our dealers and are as supportive as possible,” Rice explained. “We love to attend meetings with distributors to provide support and advice on our product range, and we like to help them from quoting to after-service.” He highlighted Cossiga’s informative website and poster-style brochure as handy tools for distributors when trying to make a sale.
With a growth figure of 134% in its second full financial year within the UK, Cossiga’s target of 100% growth per year going forwards looks within easy reach. “We are really customer focused and want to be able to provide the best possible service. We will need to bring onboard new employees – we are always looking to develop,” concluded Rice.