Economic climate claims online dealer

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Shop-Equip was based out of premises in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

Mansfield-based online dealer Shop-Equip has become the latest dealer to head into insolvency.

The firm posted on its website: “Unfortunately, the current economic climate has taken another casualty. It is with the deepest regret that the long established Shop-Equip Limited has now been placed in administration.”

Shop-Equip’s website message encouraged users to contact equipment manufacturers or wholesalers direct for any queries relating to their appliances.

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While Shop-Equip didn’t reveal its full accounts for the year ended 31 December 2017, its last annual report detailed: “2017 was a very challenging year with sales growth in excess of 39% but with a detrimental impact on margin alongside increased advertising spend resulted in only a small increase in profit before tax.”

However, the dealer’s strategy clearly did not go to plan, as the directors also stated at the time: “Market indicators suggest that significant sales growth is achievable throughout 2018 and with ongoing price stability there is potential for further sales growth in 2019. With overheads remaining static other than advertising spend with an improving return on investment we are confident of improving profitability in the short to medium term.”

Directors are currently recorded as Lee Noble, Jonathan and Paula Hall, and Adrian Rickersey.

The dealer detailed that it constantly checked its prices to get the best possible. On its website it stated: “We will aim to beat any genuine quote or published price on our full range of over 30,000 items of commercial equipment.

“Simply tell us where you found the product cheaper, and we’ll get back to you with a quote as soon as possible.”

Shop-Equip was established in 1989 as a regional retail equipment supplier and evolved to become distributor of commercial catering equipment, commercial refrigeration, retail equipment and shopfitting supplies.

Over 30,000 products were available to buy online, with brands including Atosa, Axon Enterprises, Blue Badger, Blue Seal, Cater-Bake, Classeq, Counterline, DC Products, E & R Moffat, Electrolux Professional, Foster Refrigerator, Gamble Foodservice Solutions, Hobart, Hoshizaki, Hubbard Systems, IMC, Instanta, Lincat, Linda Lewis Kitchens, Maidaid Halcyon, Marco Beverage Systems, Metcalfe Catering Equipment, Pantheon Catering Equipment, Parry, Pentland Wholesale, Project Distribution, RH Hall, Rational, Uropa Distribution, Robot Coupe, Roller Grill, Sammic, True Manufacturing and Williams Refrigeration.

Shop-Equip also had its own manufacturing facilities where it developed and offered a range of catering furniture, retail furniture and display cabinets.

Its customers range from small, independent family businesses to medium and large enterprises, including private and public organisations such as councils, schools and health authorities.

Catering Insight has so far been unable to reach Shop-Equip for comment.

Tags : dealerdistributorinsolvencyinsolventliquidationshop-equip
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls


  1. This is very sad for those that worked there and did not have influence over company policy, however as with Hopkins you cannot run a business on wafer thin margins. What is wrong in this industry is the desire to give stuff away for nothing, the only winner is the end user who at the end of the day would have bought the item at a higher price if they needed it anyway. Utter madness, how many times does this have to happen before Directors realise that the race to the bottom only ends up in tears for all concerned. It’s time this industry woke up to reality, trading conditions are not as good as they have been, but it’s not the economic climate that has ended this company, it’s stupid business decisions.

    1. I assure you if Shop-equip was to advertise at a price higher than it’s competitors the result would be the same, the only difference is you would be condemning them for pricing themselves out of the market. Everyone is quick to blame to online dealers as the scum of the Earth without pointing fingers at lazy suppliers/manufacturers who are quite happy to keep a tiered discount system rewarding “big spenders” and “box shifters”. When Nisbets eventually pulls their wholesale wing and goes it alone is when this industry will start to take shape.

  2. Just an observation looking in from the outside

    I wonder how secure the other business that Jonathan & Paula are connected to is holding up in these testing times
    Company number 01127955
    Source – Companies House

    1. guess thats the end of most online dealers soon working on daft margin (fridge land also not been reported on yet). YCR next? They had cross company guarantee with shop-equip

  3. The trouble with this industry is that it has moved from being a locally sourced and supported market by privately owned companies who give first class local service to a market place which has now become dominated by online retailers who slice margins to the absolute minimum in order to win a sale. The aforementioned practice is not doing the industry any good whatsoever that said, when are manufacturers going to wake up and stop supplying every man and his proverbial dog with products and start concentrating again on local distributors who can support their products and give the customers the support they really need?

  4. I wondered how long it would be before the manufactures copped the blame for this. It is not the manufacturers who are driving the market, it is the customer. We have always had distance selling its just that the internet makes it more efficient. We all need to adjust to todays market place and we, at least, are careful about who we work with regardless of their business model.
    Having worked with Lee and the team at Shop Equip for many years this is sad news and I wish them all well.

    1. Peter it is not new news that the only people that can control this situation is The Manufacturers?
      Having worked for Large Manufacturers and now operating as a Service Based Distributor I see this from both sides but if I look back 15 years ago when this first started happening I at the time controlled this situation by offering a structured discounting rate dependant on what the Distributor could offer the client base.
      This today isn’t the case and whilst we all need to move with the times by offering Internet Companies the ability to purchase goods “It is still controllable”

    2. Well said Peter, however I fear manufacturers will always receive an unjust amount of criticism when folk need “someone” to blame. This all started many years ago before e-commerce became king with a distributor giving away a large portion of its margin in order to sell at headline prices. New and existing distributors who wanted to get on board with e-commerce found margins already slashed and the consumer long used to buying from a catalogue or website rather than a face with a name. I fail to see how manufacturers are somehow to blame for the evolution of catering equipment procurement!

  5. The problem is wholesalers will deal with anyone and are not bothered how much the distributer sells the product for.
    It’s easy to complain when a distributor goes bust but surely if f the wholesalers reps were doing their job they would have a inkling if who was going under.

  6. When will the Manufacturers learn, there is actually more to selling their goods than the Internet. Put your trust in the Distributor, who properly specified the product in the fist place! Come on Manufacturers and CESA, when are you going to recognise the difference and do something about it.

  7. As established distributors we take the time to visit customers on site to discuss their requirements. In many cases what happens next is they fleece you for all your knowledge and expertise, then buy online at the cheapest price elsewhere. Over the last couple of years support from manufacturers has plummeted, in our view they appear to pander to ‘Super Distributors’ but week by week this type of operator goes into liquidation. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward. We’ll still be here though ploughing on, doing what we do really well with integrity, adapting to the current economic climate, and paying our bills…

  8. Unfortunately that’s what you get for internet sales with minimal margin. Price is not everything sustained service is important and paying that little extra provides that in abundance. Will not shed tears for these types of business`.

  9. My wife an I started Shop-Equip in September 1989 as a local small retail equipment distributor offering local supply and service. We started to expand and manufacture shop furniture, sold to Mostyn PLC and retired in 2003 but continued to watch with interest and, I have to say, some pride as the business continued to grow. Many of the staff who have just lost their jobs were with us all those years ago. There are no winners here. The employees, customers and sundry creditors will all feel the pain and I feel particularly sorry for the staff thrown out of work just before Christmas. The internet, flattens the marketing chain and is claiming many victims in the retail and other sectors. Sadly, more, I believe, will follow Shop-Equip down the gurgler.

  10. With all the internat sellers its such a balancing act between how much do we spend with Google Adwords to how low can we adjust the margins to still win business (They are almost non existant!) and then of course huge, huge volume to compensate the spend… Its actually one of the hardest ways to sell anything and make real money at the moment!! The main winner will always be google by a long way.. of course.
    If all you have is a website just selling Catering Equipment at suicidal margin with no other services then i would say your better off buying a tin whistle and sitting in the subway with an upturned hat.. I feel sorry for these guys because they pay an absolute fortune into google every month (the adwords are getting more expensive and the margins are getting lower) in the hope of snaring a customer who gives them a minute margin to deliver the box!! Oh and i almost forgot.. you also pay the credit card company a significant portion of your tiny sales margin.
    Anyone want to start a Catering Equipment website.

  11. I agree with a lot of what has been said here, especially those quoting Google and the end user as the only real winners. The market is huge and there should be room for all types of distributor. It only takes one online retailer to cut its prices and the rest have to follow or they lose business. I am sure most online retailers who have invested heavily to provide excellent websites and have hard working staff offering excellent customer service would prefer to sell at higher margins but they can’t because customers will shop according to price and not loyalty or principle.

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