Winterhalter-owned warewashing brand Classeq has made quite a splash in 2017, refreshing both its branding and its product portfolio. Catering Insight caught up with CEO David Smithson to get the inside story on the latest changes:
Why has Classeq decided it’s time for a rebrand?
As we developed our new ranges of digital warewashers, it became clear that Classeq was moving into a new era and it felt right to update our brand positioning to reflect this.
To get us started, we consulted with our stakeholders and conducted research into how Classeq was perceived around the world. The results of this global brand audit informed the strategy for our rebrand and shaped the foundation for our new brand promise and positioning.
As part of the rebrand, we have identified three core pillars which are central to our offering – simplicity, quality and affordability. Our main ethos is all about making life easier for our customers, ensuring the warewashing process is as simple and efficient as possible, hence our new strapline – ‘warewashing made simple’. At the end of the day, we promise to provide our customers with a simple, effective solution that consistently guarantees a good quality result and great value for money.
Why have you launched your new Standard and Duo ranges?
We spoke to our customers and distributors across the globe to find out what was important to them and what they are looking for in a modern warewasher. Our new ranges have been designed with this feedback in mind.
The main change is that we’ve moved to an electronic operating system rather than electro-mechanical. This means each machine features an inbuilt digital display showing data around usage, the temperature of the rinse and wash tanks and chemical use, all of which is invaluable in ensuring a machine is operating at its best.
The new machines have been on trial since June 2016 and have received really positive reviews from our customers, with many commenting on the high-quality results they’ve experienced and how easy the machines are to clean.
How long were the ranges in development and how are they different from previous offerings?
Our new ranges have been in development for the past 18 months. We draw upon in-house research and development, with a fully integrated team of six based at the manufacturing facility in Stafford.
We’ve taken every aspect of our previous Eco and Duo ranges and made improvements wherever possible to design the new Standard and Duo ranges. This includes everything from simplifying the wiring, giving the machines a sleek, modern look and using universally recognisable symbols on the control panel and documentation.
However, the most significant change is the digitalisation of the machines. The software has been created bespoke for each machine, combining insights and learning from our expertise gained over the past 13 years and from our parent company Winterhalter, to make the operation as simple and effective as possible for our customers.
The Standard range has all the necessary components to make a good quality, reliable and simple to use warewasher.
The Duo range has all the features found in the Standard range, plus an LCD digital display showing accurate wash tank and rinse boiler temperatures and cycle options. They also feature two additional buttons to select wash programmes and make adjustments to settings.
How do you benefit from Winterhalter as your parent firm?
We work closely with Winterhalter when it comes to the sharing of insights and market analysis. In a competitive marketplace this is highly beneficial during the development process of new products to meet customer requirements and usage habits. There are distinct differentials of price, features and benefits between the two brands and come under the heading of ‘horses for courses’ with the end result that our distributors have the advantage of covering all the bases.
Where are your appliances manufactured and why?
Classeq machines are fully developed and manufactured in Stafford. We believe in British and where possible, source internal components for our products from the UK. Having our main manufacturing plant in the same place as where all our core equipment is produced and tested enables us to support the local economy with a wide range of jobs and helps to reduce our overall environmental impact.
Having our workforce in Britain also enables us to keep close controls and measures in place to guarantee that the machines are of consistent quality and that our team have the necessary training, skills and knowledge to provide all customers with a service that is second to none.
Have you recently made any investments in plant?
Our growth in recent years, both in the UK and export sales, has outstripped the capacity of our current premises and we are presently building a new manufacturing facility which is due to be completed in August 2017. This provides us with the resource to continue to grow the business and provide our customers with the high-quality, reliable service which Classeq is known for.
What UK distributors do you work with?
At Classeq, we work with a broad spectrum of distributors throughout the UK and Ireland, which have different areas of expertise and geographical locations. This provides us with a presence in all market sectors and access to the necessary sales and service support in these areas.
Working in collaboration with a network of distributors, we have a strong understanding of our customer’s requirements. This forms the basis of our customer-centric dealer strategy and influences everything from ongoing product development to the marketing and sales materials our customers receive.
Are you intending to target any specific markets?
This is driven by our distributors and despite our manufacturing facility being based in the UK, we also export around the world. This side of the business is continuing to grow as we integrate the Classeq brand with our Winterhalter subsidiaries.
What are your current main business challenges?
Inevitably the unknown aspect of Brexit is seen as a challenge but we must also see this as an opportunity to develop. At Classeq, we are continuing to invest in the training and development for our team, to utilise the benefits of technological advancements and continue to progress our offering.
How do you see Classeq developing, going forwards?
The redesign of the Classeq model range and the launch of the new undercounter models has been the most significant step-change the brand has seen. The new range benefits from substantial investment in research and development, providing a highly reliable, highly intuitive and easy to use interface. This is an exhilarating time for Classeq as we continue to develop our warewashing portfolio and are gearing up for the opening of our new manufacturing facility in the summer.