Experienced catering supplies executive Jamie Poole set up distributor called &serve 24 hours after being made redundant due to the coronavirus crisis.
Poole worked as a manager at Liverpool hospitality supply company Last Straw for 4 years, before being made redundant by the firm in September 2020 as a result of the downturn in the hospitality industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A sister division, Sugar & Lime, specialised in catering equipment hire.
He says the redundancy didn’t really come as a shock, and that the company cited the pandemic as the reason why redundancies were needed.
Poole recounted: “A good percentage of my day to day role was to oversee the hire department, utilised by wedding and events venues. Once Covid hit that business completely dried up and with no sign of large-scale events returning, redundancy was far from a surprise.”
However, he decided to move in a different direction, detailing: “I’d long wanted to start my own business and with little opportunity to find a new role during a global pandemic the obvious answer was to start my own company, so within 24 hours of being made redundant I started up &serve, a hospitality and catering equipment distributor. Within 3 days I had my first order and haven’t looked back.”
Poole confesses it hasn’t all been plain sailing but like so many businesses it’s the day to day uncertainty of when hospitality and catering venues will reopen that poses the biggest headache: “You’d think that starting a business geared around the hospitality and catering industry when up to 90% of those businesses are closed would be a little crazy, but it’s been quite the opposite. Many business owners and operators are using the time to refresh their premises or start new ventures and this is where I’ve seen the majority of my business come from.”
The next 12 months are likely to be challenging for the entrepreneur but as the UK’s vaccination programme is rolled out he feels positive about the future when hospitality and catering venues can operate in a less restricted manner.
&serve supplies Hoshizaki ice machines, Maidaid glasswashers and ice machines, and Koldbox and Prodis bottle coolers, as well as offering commercial kitchen design, bar design and ice machine rental.