The FCSI has closed the door on the possibility of creating a membership category for kitchen houses with in-house foodservice design arms after resistance from its Professional members, the chair of the UK branch has said.
Matthew Merritt-Harrison, who took over the post at the end of last year, confirmed that “very serious” discussions had taken place about letting distributors into the society in a Professional capacity but the idea was put to bed in December.
Many traditional kitchen houses and dealers have either launched or expanded the design and consultancy side of their businesses in recent years, prompting a conversation over whether they qualify to join the FCSI.
Merritt-Harrison said: “We did have a quite serious debate about whether we should have another membership category for people [with design capabilities] and there was a very strong feeling from the design professionals that we shouldn’t.
“We respect what those individuals do, but they are not independent professionals. They can’t be independent because they earn their income from selling equipment. I am not saying they are not credible, I am just saying that that is where they earn their income.”
Mr Merritt-Harrison said the matter had prompted a “very serious” internal discussion and been explored “robustly” before a decision was reached.
He acknowledged that the FCSI needed to increase the number of Professional members within its ranks, but said that bringing traditional kitchen houses into the fold was not the right way to go about it.
“Whilst it would have been the design people [of kitchen houses], there is always a danger that you get one person working on design within an equipment house and suddenly that equipment house has the FCSI logo on their website implying that they are [an independent foodservice consultancy] …and that devalues what the FCSI does.”
Mr Merritt-Harrison said some of its design members were “very, very passionate” about the issue but that it was important for the body to see the argument through.
He noted that the decision did not prevent distributors joining the FCSI as Allied members, in the same way that both manufacturers and caterers can.
The full interview with Mr Merritt-Harrison was published by Catering Insight’s sister publication Foodservice Equipment Journal and can be read HERE.