It is not uncommon for catering equipment distributors and dealers to accuse manufacturers of failing to offer enough in the way of regular product training and updates.
But dealers which took part in the first-ever CESA Heavy Equipment Forum came away from the event with no such complaints, having had the chance to hear from no fewer than 15 manufacturers and suppliers.
Each group of distributors took part in 30-minute closed-door sessions with all 15 of the manufacturers involved in the event. As well as getting a chance to see the equipment up close, distributors had the opportunity to discuss new product developments, business opportunities and training activities.
The first meetings kicked off at 9am, but prior to that CESA’s vice-president, Simon Frost, welcomed attendees to the event. He said: “80% of the catering equipment that is sold into the UK market comes from a CESA member. The goal of this event is to build on the professionalism of the industry and provide you with information that is useful to you and your customers.”
Frost said the format of the day was very much based on the successful Light Equipment Forum, which CESA has been running for 10 years.
The spread of suppliers ensured dealers got to grips with equipment from all major product categories.
On the combi oven side, Retigo, Manitowoc and Dawson all showcased their newest innovations. Manitowoc had two Convotherm 4 models for dealers to play with, while Dawson highlighted the Naboo and Sapiens lines from Lainox. Retigo, meanwhile, provided an overview of its Czech-built machines as it looks to develop a distributor network in the UK.
Elsewhere on the cooking side, Grande Cuisine gave dealers the lowdown on its three core brands — Adventys, Athanor and Capic — and Jestic reeled off developments with some of the core brands in its portfolio, including Atollspeed, Josper, Henny Penny and Woodstone. Dawson also discussed the investments being made by Mareno and Rosinox, which it represents in the UK.
The Lincat team was in good form as it used the 30-minute slots to remind distributors that perceptions of it as a light duty brand are wide of the mark. “70% of our turnover is from heavy duty equipment,” said sales director designate Rob Gibson, as he unveiled new additions to the company’s popular Opus range.
Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM) demonstrated the breadth of its offering, with everything from the latest Cambro shelving to Vollrath planetary mixers on show, while RH Hall communicated key lines from its range, including the iWave bar-coded microwave system and an innovative new touchscreen soup dispenser. Metcalfe displayed its array of food prep lines, with the Australian-made Roband contact grill station catching the eye.
Victor Manufacturing had plenty to shout about as sales director Andrew Gibson revealed business was up 15% already this year following a “bumper summer”. He said: “We’ve got a new factory for our custom counters division, which is giving us 25% more space and room to grow, our national accounts team has grown from one to three, and we are looking to double our export business this year.”
Corsair is also enjoying considerable expansion — with its ventilation division now turning over £1m a year and benefitting from a dealer-centric sales strategy — as is Gram, which showcased its Superior-branded range of low energy consumption refrigeration.
First Choice offered a solution for dealers that have customers facing food waste management issues, explaining the advantages of the EnviroPure decomposition system that it now distributes in the UK.
Finally, on the warewashing side, Electrolux demonstrated its innovative Green&Clean hood-type dishwasher, which is capable of washing 80 racks an hour, and Wexiodisk ran dealers through the unique aspects of its Duplus technology, featuring a patented double rinse system.
Over 60 delegates attended, representing many of the UK’s leading distributors. Simon Parry, sales manager at BBCS, was impressed by the attention exhibitors paid to getting their messages across. “The chance to meet 15 suppliers in one day, without turning the ignition key, is just brilliant,” he said.
Trevor Bradley, design and installation manager at 3663 Catering Equipment, welcomed the chance to get a refresher on the latest products from manufacturers. “We’re also interested to meet up with several companies we don’t currently deal with,” he added.