Most pizza and pasta making equipment supplied to UK dealers is imported from Europe and North America. So how are suppliers of this equipment providing support to the dealer channel from both a product and service perspective? Catering Insight caught up with a handful of the market’s most-established names to find out.
The availability of pizza and pasta-making equipment in the UK market has increased substantially in the past decade, reflecting demand for classic Italian cuisine right the way across the pub and restaurant sector.
Whether it’s charcoal-fired pizza ovens or specialist pasta machines designed explicitly for commercial use, dealers have been swamped with orders from customers that want something both reliable and authentic-looking to give their menu a lift.
But with much of this sort of kit imported into the UK from Europe, there are obvious benefits to working with distributors and suppliers that can fully support the equipment.
Jestic Foodservice Solutions brings in pizza equipment from Alfa, Woodstone and Sveba Dhalen. It prides itself on building strong relationships with its dealers, largely by ensuring that good and regular communication is maintained.
“By communicating well with each of our dealers, we are able to hear first-hand what their specific needs and requirements are,” says Mike Woodman, head of sales at the company.
“For example, in recent months, dealers have been discussing concerns about stock availability given that this is currently an industry-wide issue. These concerns are ones that Jestic is proud to have addressed ahead of time through having recently increased our stock-hold by £1m, to an exceptional £4m. To add to this, we have also have started to return to normal lead times on our pizza oven brands, making these products some of the easiest to access from Jestic Foodservice Solutions.”
Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM) is the master distributor for a number of brands. It also believes that helping dealers to overcome key market obstacles has become as important as ensuring new innovations are introduced to the UK.
“We offer as much training and support to dealers and customers as possible to ensure they can get the most out of the equipment we supply,” says commercial director Mark Hogan.
“We listen to our customers and offer solutions to current challenges. The rising cost of energy is crippling the foodservice industry; we are offering support and advice in energy efficient equipment lines that can help customers save on energy bills.
“We have created an Energy-Saving Essentials Guide offering advice on the top products to help save on energy bills, such as how switching to Vollrath induction hobs can amount to huge annual energy savings, and how Alto-Shaam multifunctional cooking equipment – like the Vector ovens or the simple and deluxe cook and hold ovens – are ventless and waterless, reducing installation and operating costs while increasing production.”
Another brand that knows the value of Italian machinery is CuisinEquip, which serves as the exclusive UK agent for Bottene professional pasta-making machines.
Heralding from Italy where the company has been producing market-leading equipment for almost 150 years, the brand was one of Italy’s best-kept secrets until the 1970s when it began exporting equipment all over the world.
Today, it manufactures some of the most prominent pasta-making machines for the commercial market, used by top chefs, restaurants and operators around the globe.
Using traditional methods combined with modern technology and manufacturing capability, Bottene pasta makers have an international reputation for standout reliability and exceptional design. “Given that a Bottene pasta-making machine is a premium purchase, we place significant importance on adding value, both to our dealer and distributor partners and to their operator customers,” says Steve Elliott, sales director at CuisinEquip.
“This added value is demonstrated through a range of physical and virtual training, expert advice and support and a comprehensive warranty.”
At its head office in Reading, CuisinEquip operates a flexible development kitchen from which it regularly delivers training, menu development and advice to dealers, distributors and operators looking at equipment in the Bottene range.
Many dealer partners invite their customers to bring their own pasta recipes and ingredients to the kitchen, allowing the brand to demonstrate the capability and capacity of the machines on show. In addition to this, it offers a series of online training programmes, including freely-accessible how-to videos.
Elliott says the Bottene range from CuisinEquip is also backed by a comprehensive two-year parts and labour warranty as standard. “This gives the operator peace of mind and the reassurance that their pasta-making equipment will be ready for use when they need it most,” he says.
His message to dealers is that having invested in its dedicated development kitchen facilities, it is eager for customers to make the most of them. “Our highly experienced team are on hand to demonstrate the capabilities of the range. We’ve seen that hosting physical demonstrations is one of the best ways for dealers to secure a sale. We are also happy to undertake these product demos at dealer sites or even in operator kitchens where required.”
Aside from the development kitchen, CuisinEquip’s experienced team is available over the phone and by email, providing advice on specific dies and accessories, even undertaking remote diagnostics where needed. “Where we are unable to identify a potential issue, or where a dealer or operator has a specific request or enquiry, we can use our relationship with the manufacturing team, directly contacting the factory to resolve,” explains Elliott.
To support both new and existing customers, the company has also invested in several appliances which it retains as loan equipment.
Elliott explains: “This bank of our most popular Bottene machines can be used where customers are looking to trial new equipment or to ensure existing customer production is not impacted in the event of essential repairs or servicing being required. The availability of loan equipment provides an effective sales tool for dealers and adds further value to a Bottene purchase.”
FEM runs both dealer and customer-specific demo days where it can take equipment to the client and showcase items they want to see in action. These events see the equipment demonstrated thoroughly, from setting up, programming and cooking items, to cool down and cleaning procedures.
“We also offer planning, development and delivery of projects. For help and advice on specific projects or customer requests, dealers should reach out to both our internal and external sales teams,” says Mark Hogan.
Jestic’s development kitchens in Kent and Manchester are a valuable resource for customers. Mike Woodman says that it always encourages dealers to take the opportunity to book onto any of its complimentary development sessions. “By doing this, a dealer is able to refresh any existing product knowledge that they already have on our pizza oven models and see the latest pizza oven models from our brands Alfa, Woodstone and Sveba Dhalen live in situ.
“It’s also worth noting that at Jestic we are happy to train, re-train and support dealers on any of our brand products. Therefore dealers have the added peace of mind that even if staff leave, new and existing staff can be re-trained at their convenience,” says Woodman.
While support can be a key differentiator for dealers when choosing supplier partners, the question of product availability and pricing has taken on added significance in the current climate. So how are suppliers dealing with this?
“At CuisinEquip, we’re committed to supporting our dealer and distributor customers, which includes supplying equipment in a timely manner where possible,” says Steve Elliott.
“As such, we’ve invested in UK stockholding, particularly on the most common models in the Bottene portfolio. In turn, this has meant we have been able to maintain stock and dispatch orders rapidly. We also hold stock of the most common spare parts, which allows us to quickly diagnose, fix and return in or out of warranty equipment. When it comes to price increases, we have worked hard to manage and absorb as much of the recent price rises as possible.
However, it is inevitable given the current situation that we will have to implement a certain degree of price increase going forward.”
FEM’s Hogan says that all its manufacturers are having similar issues when it comes to the availability of raw materials and delays are likely in the current climate.
“Rising costs of raw materials, manufacturing of goods, utilities and shipping costs has resulted in pricing increases from all of our manufacturing partners,” he says.
“We are experiencing longer lead times when Sirman pasta machines and pizza ovens are not in stock; however, we continually work with Sirman on getting stock to our warehouse as quickly as possible to avoid supply chain issues and disruption to our customers and dealer network as much as possible .”
Suppliers might not be able to predict product availability with the same certainty as they did in the past, but there can be no doubting the investment they are making to ensure customers have access to the best possible support.