York-based fabricator Holmes Catering Equipment Solutions is ramping production back up after having to slow down at the start of the coronavirus lockdown.
Holmes is part of the Nisbets-owned Space Group, though run as an entirely separate manufacturing division for fabrication and servery counters, with its own client base.
Holmes MD Steve Parkin detailed: “When the lockdown first happened we went down to about 25% of full capacity, but this has increased consistently since and we’re now at around 60% with the capability to ramp up to full capacity very quickly. We’re monitoring it on an order by order basis, and the Flexi-furlough scheme from July will only help further with this.”
He further reported: “We were fortunate in that Holmes’ heritage has always been with the retail, and particularly grocery retail, sector and, as we all know, this remained very buoyant and we supported a number of clients with their efforts to remain operational and comply with social distancing guidelines. We supply products to Nisbets which has continued throughout.
“We also benefit, in my view, from having a very skilled and flexible workforce, so we were able to switch some production capability to manufacturing privacy screens for the Nightingale Hospitals, and protection screens for businesses across many different sectors that remained open. This has helped us keep all areas of the factory – metalwork and joinery – operating.”
The fabricator has over 3,000metre2 of work area at its York facility, so Parkin feels that social distancing is easier than at some other premises. However, the firm has also introduced a one-way system, staggered breaks, a set of sanitation/hygiene points, along with a number of other hygiene and control measures in line with best practice.
Holmes is picking up more orders now, including from distributors who needed counters but couldn’t obtain them from their normal counter manufacturer, which had effectively been mothballed.
Parkin revealed: “We’re proud of the fact that we’re part of a larger business, and we supply obviously both Space and Nisbets. However, we have always operated as a separate business unit, and have our own identity (we’re a Yorkshire business, after all!) and our own clients which we’ve supplied, in some cases, for decades.
“Holmes has always been strong in the retail and hotel sectors, with its bespoke fabrication capability, but we also supply some trade partners too and always have. Whilst some may see this as being a potential conflict of interests, I can assure them that it isn’t, as we deliberately keep both sides of the business very separate. And remember, there is 200 miles of motorway that also helps with this.”
He concluded: “We recognise that some distributors will have counter or fabrication orders that they’re struggling to fulfil whilst so much of the industry is still in lockdown, but we’re here and happy to help.”