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Ed’s view: Where do we go from here?

CN editor pic 2020 landscape

Does anyone else want to reset the clock to 31 December 2019, expunging 2020 from existence? I know I do.

Sadly without a time machine, we all have to face today’s reality, which has completely changed even from a few weeks ago. Firstly, I hope you are all safe and well, considering the current crisis.

Who would have thought that our entire industry, along with most others, would come grinding to a halt? But the coronavirus pandemic has done exactly that.

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I have been doing my best to keep you, dear reader, as updated as possible on the operational status of distributors, suppliers and manufacturers, trawling through social media and wading through an exploding inbox to put together a manageable daily digest for you.

But the situation is so fluid and I am but one pair of eyes, so I’m sure I have missed some nuggets of information out. Do feel free to drop me a line on clare.nicholls@itppromedia.com if you need to let the supply chain know your current situation.

In normal times, if even one dealer or manufacturer closed their doors it would be massive news, but at this point, it’s bigger news if one is still managing to operate. Forgive me a niche reference but it put me in mind of sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf’s pilot episode, where the main character Dave Lister wakes up from stasis to find he is the only one left alive on his spaceship. The talking computer Holly tries to explain the gravity of the situation to him but it doesn’t really sink in. Interpolating the dialogue into the current situation would go a little something like:

“Everybody’s closed, Dave.”

“What, even C&C?”

“Everybody’s closed, Dave.”

“But surely the Williams factory is still going?”

“Everybody’s closed, Dave.”

“So Foster remains open then?”

“Everybody’s closed, Dave.”

You get the picture. Coronavirus has essentially put the brakes on what was a thriving sector, and with the hospitality industry on lockdown until who knows when, many companies will be relying on the government’s financial rescue packages to cover salaries while business remains furloughed.

Nevertheless, we do need to try and change our mental perspectives on the situation to try and stop us collectively losing our marbles while we are isolated and working remotely.

This pause on the everyday could give us all a chance to really reflect on what’s important, and in the case of the UK catering equipment supply chain, what is working and what isn’t. It’s the perfect opportunity to restructure businesses from the ground up, as when life gets back to normal – and it will, because as with all things, this too shall pass – you can bet your bottom dollar that the populace is going to want to have their first 20 meals out after lockdown.

Will you be prepared for a spike in repairs and servicing at that time? You certainly have the time to put preparations in place right now. And yes, the pace of commercial kitchen designs and outfits will indeed slow dramatically, but the coronavirus crisis cannot go on forever and operators will need new and upgraded facilities eventually.

The question is really who will remain standing afterwards – in terms of operators, distributors and manufacturers. It will become very obvious who has an effective crisis management plan and who can adapt to survive.

In the meantime, outlets like Dominos are reporting rocketing delivery demand, so there is still some work to be had in the only catering service to slip the lockdown net. And of course critical customers in key sectors such as hospitals and care homes are still operating, though I would caution anyone heading to those sites to take the utmost care of their own health too.

I am also heartened to hear stories of those in the catering equipment industry helping the cause and being hugely community-minded. We all need positive stories like this and I would like to shine a light on as many as possible to help us collectively get through these dark days, so again, if you have any rays of newsworthy sunshine you want to send out there, do email me and I’ll do my best to help keep spirits up.

None of us know when this is going to end, and with further uncertainties being thrown into the mix daily – such as Boris Johnson himself testing positive for coronavirus this morning – we can only try and pull together to keep on trucking and hope that we make it out the other side unscathed.

The UK catering equipment industry is a close knit sector and I know that we’ll all do what we can to look out for each other. Take care and stay safe everyone.

Tags : coronavirusEditor's Viewopinion
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

4 Comments

  1. Great idea Clare – I’m sure we could all do with hearing a few positive stories at the minute! Look after yourselves everyone.

  2. Thanks Clare, we are still operating full 7 day nationwide support for Supermarkets, Nursing Homes and Home delivery production kitchens through our own strategically place engineers. It will be interesting to see how many machines will need attention when they are switched back on.
    Derek

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