Catering Insight asks prominent suppliers some key questions about which equipment brands they choose to import:
What buying trends are you noticing from dealers?
Valera marketing/sales manager Kurran Gadhvi: Dealers bulk purchase primarily smaller lighter equipment such as our microwaves and induction hobs. This is also because smaller items don’t take too much space in a showroom or warehouse and the cost tends to be lower, while sales of kitchen necessity items are higher.
FEM commercial director Mark Hogan: Dealers are purchasing only what the need, when they need it. This is a trend that has been established for some years. Our next day delivery service means it’s not usually an issue.
Hendi UK sales director Phil Matthews: Dealers are loathe to stock lines in the current climate. There is such a huge choice and variety of items available to the end user that dealers are acutely aware of the fact that they cannot stock everything. Service is therefore becoming more and more vital because dealers are placing orders for individual customer requirements and these require swift and reliable deliveries from their supply partners.
Blue Badger Wholesale operations director Alison Harvey: On the whole, dealers are purchasing only what they need when they need it. We do offer bulk deals, and whilst they are popular on smaller items like microwaves, we find less of an uptake for bulkier/higher value items. This is because of lack of warehouse space but we would also perceive cash flow to be a very important consideration for distributors. Equally, the last mile logistics are notoriously challenging. As a wholesaler we recognise this to be an important point of difference for us. Our delivery service allows the distributor to deliver to 99% of UK postcodes the following day. They can offer a two-man service, with a 2 hour time slot and tracking link, and we can even do evening deliveries now, which is proving very popular with late night venues who don’t want to be on site from 8am.
Cater-Bake head of sales UK Steven Lilley: On the whole, I think we’re well past the dirt cheap phase of internet buying, with people returning to recognised brands or reputable dealers where possible. That doesn’t mean customers won’t be looking for the best possible deal on the item they want. We’re seeing larger equipment being specified in electric, rather than gas, and we put this down to the potential expense and installation work of the necessary extraction for gas versions.
Do you tend to stipulate exclusive rights to the brands you import to the UK?
Blue Badger Wholesale operations director Alison Harvey: It depends on the brand awareness, potential volume and how much investment would be required for us to market it. As a wholesaler we accept that sales generated from our marketing efforts will not always return to us but we naturally take this into account when deciding investment levels. Where we do have exclusivity we fully embrace working with other wholesalers, as doing so can generate incremental sales.
Valera marketing/sales manager Kurran Gadhvi: We tend to work predominantly with brands with which we have exclusivity; it is easier to work like this to avoid customer confusion, price wars and after-sales support. Where we share we tend to hold a lot of stock and have a competitive edge on pricing and warranty.
Cater-Bake head of sales UK Steven Lilley: ‘Exclusive rights’ is a must. If a brand wants a wholesaler to fully invest and push their products and name, they need to have the security that another seller isn’t going to piggy back and take advantage without having to bear the cost.
FEM commercial director Mark Hogan: We assess and analyse each potential business opportunity on its own merits.
What criteria do you look for in any brands you supply?
FEM commercial director Mark Hogan: Our main criteria are to look for brands that develop product innovations and equipment that offers practical solutions for foodservice operators. What we don’t look for are the cheapest brands and products in the market.
Cater-Bake head of sales UK Steven Lilley: I guess quality is the first thing that comes to mind, but you have to balance specification levels in order that you’re supplying an item at a sensible budget for whichever market you’re aiming for. Realistically, no-one is going to buy gold-plated pizza pans. Relevance is also important; however good the engineering or economical the price, is it a relevant product in today’s workplace? If it’s a new product, you have to build a concept to show the user how it’s going to work for them. If you can do this, then the likelihood is that you could be supplying a unique product, which is another thing you should be looking for.
Valera marketing/sales manager Kurran Gadhvi: We look for high quality, reliable service and products, great communication throughout sales and after-sales, a large stock of parts, good accreditations and sustainability. We want long term relationships rather than short term one-offs and we have worked with some companies for over 25 years and are close friends with them.
Blue Badger Wholesale operations director Alison Harvey: Quality and reliability is our main criteria. It is important to us that our customers trust our expertise. We assess how a brand compares to existing market leaders and where its price point would place it in the marketplace. We look to source less well-known brands that provide value without sacrificing quality.
What benefits do your supply contracts have for the manufacturers involved, and how can these be passed onto dealers?
Hendi UK sales director Phil Matthews: The Hendi brand is offered to the market exclusively through dealers in the UK and Ireland; Hendi does not deal direct. The Essentials range is UK stocked to allow Hendi UK to offer a next day delivery service to its dealer partners. All Hendi plugged items come complete with a 2 year parts and labour warranty. This offers the dealer a brand that they can partner with and that supports them post-sale.
FEM commercial director Mark Hogan: We have a highly professional sales and marketing team based in the UK, providing a local and readily available source of information about our imported products. This benefits the manufacturer, since they know their products are being presented in the most professional and effective way. It also helps our dealers, since they know we will be happy to supply all the product support they need.
We have a large warehouse holding high stock levels, so our manufacturers know that UK dealers and end users have a ready supply of their products. We offer next day delivery, and carriage is free of charge to UK mainland on all orders above £250 net. These benefits encourage dealers to buy from us, which obviously benefits our manufacturers, too.
We offer a wide and diverse range, which means dealers can order multiple products from various brands from the one point of contact. This makes the order process more simple, efficient and cost effective for our dealers – and encourages them to buy products from all our manufacturers.
Valera marketing/sales manager Kurran Gadhvi: We take full responsibility for sales, transport and after-sales service representation in the UK and Irish market. This gives the manufacturer representation, sales and a strong brand presence.
Blue Badger Wholesale operations director Alison Harvey: In an industry more and more reliant on drop shipping, our ability to hold stock is of great benefit to manufacturers. The volume of deliveries we complete gives us better terms and allows us to pass on cost savings to dealers.
The wholesale model also supports the 80/20 rule which many of our manufacturers follow. Where 80% of their sales come from 20% of their customers it is natural for them to focus on those 20%. However the remaining 80% provide opportunities which we are happy to help develop. In turn the distributor can benefit from our buying power allowing them to compete, something particularly important for independent distributors and engineers.
We also provide a critical route to market for manufacturers who sell unusual items not widely available. Our website has been designed to provide a marketplace for those items. Distributors can find what they need and be sure of its quality; we simply wouldn’t market it otherwise. Our industry-leading functionality allows them to generate a professional pdf with their own logo and price with one click making an unusual sale simple and straightforward.
Our sales team are also on hand with plenty of knowledge across a wide range of products to help distributors to find the best solution for their customer.
Cater-Bake head of sales UK Steven Lilley: Obviously, the warranties that we give are supported by the manufacturer. That gives the customer peace of mind. Once we’re awarded agency for a brand, it allows us to focus on how to constructively grow sales in a manner that enhances the brand’s standing in our market and will lead to continued business in the medium to long term.