The UK catering equipment supply chain is now scaling back operations as the UK-wide lockdown due to coronavirus becomes ever more stringent.
Stirling-based Falcon Foodservice Equipment has now closed its factory to normal operations, though MD Peter McAllister underlined: “We will maintain a small and highly flexible team to support the UK foodservice supply chain during this critical period. We have a wide range of products available in multiple locations to ensure that we are still able to meet any request for vital equipment, spares and service during these extremely challenging and unprecedented times.
“We also want to assure you that we are taking every possible step at Falcon to help in the efforts to contain Covid-19 while balancing the essential need to supply some of our key industries. We have implemented the most stringent precautions to ensure those at Falcon will be protected.”
Elsewhere, combi oven manufacturer Unox’s Italian headquarters has been designated as vital for national production. Therefore its offices will remain active: it will continue to accept new orders and fulfil existing requests.
However, in an attempt to ensure the safety of its employees and help restrict the spread of Covid-19 the majority of staff have been working either in small groups or remotely for the past few weeks.
While all production facilities are still operational, production is only running from 6.00am – 2-00pm daily and is then closed to allow sanitation of the entire production area in preparation for the next day.
Unox UK MD Gary Nunn reassured: “As we manufacture 96% of our own components, current and future stocks of parts are sufficient and we see no problems moving forward.
“The despatch department is open, running in small teams and working split shifts to prevent the spread of the virus and to enable orders to be fulfilled and normal shipments to be made.”
The company’s UK office has also set up small working teams to minimise the spread of Covid-19.
Nunn detailed: “All groups are still operational and are organised in a way to sustain normal operational working either at our head offices or remotely via internet links.
“We have increased our UK stocks and are still receiving shipments from Italy at this time. We intend to trade as normally as possible to ensure you and your customers are fully covered, whilst complying with UK government and WHO recommendations.”
HTG Trading, the supplier which represents brands including Hubbard Systems and Taylor UK, is also following WHO advice.
The company will be reducing its field activity, with the directors explaining: “Whilst we can maintain high levels of both personal and environmental hygiene, our day to day business requires close contact either between employees or directly with customers.
We have therefore concluded that we cannot fulfil our sales and service obligations without compromising the strict social distancing policies outlined by the government.
“As a result, we have suspended any equipment deliveries, direct sales activity, equipment installations or service activity until we are advised it is safe to do so again by the government.”
Hubbard Systems and Taylor UK will be operating with reduced capacity over the coming weeks and the supplier’s goal is to provide support to its customers wherever it can whilst maintaining the recommended social distancing measures.
The directors added: “Our sales office will be open as normal, albeit with reduced capacity, should you have any questions regarding any outstanding orders, and can advise on products and equipment availability should you wish to start planning for the future.”
The Taylor UK service and support centre and Hubbard Systems technical advice lines will be open as normal, again on a reduced capacity.
Milton Keynes-headquartered Mechline, too, has been implementing changes to its operations and procedures, in line with current UK government advice.
Commercial director, Peter Galliford, wrote to the company’s customers, saying: “Our office administration, finance, marketing and sales team personnel are now working from home, but, as a British manufacturer, we are most definitely keeping the lights on at Milton Keynes.
“For the time being, we will maintain a skeleton technical and production crew, to ensure that companies who need products or support in these challenging times can be serviced.
“We are especially aware of the pressure on public service operations and care homes and the need to ensure they can be serviced. Our delivery couriers currently have committed to the same service.
“Additionally, we have heavily invested in parts and stock, and, remain in very close working partnership with our supply chain, here in the UK and overseas.”
Over at Pitstone-headquartered RH Hall, MD Ray Hall underlined: “We are open for business as usual and whilst we have reduced the number of staff required at our HQ, we have full sales, service, spares and customer service support available Monday-Friday, 8:30-5:30 – as normal.”
“We have a commitment to our customers – crucially including any healthcare, NHS and other frontline workers – to maintain supply and provide an uninterrupted service to those that need it during these troubling times.
“However, we also have a strong focus on the health and well-being of all employees, customers and suppliers and as such our key personnel will be working remotely wherever possible.”
Prodis also confirmed all of our key staff are working remotely from today until further notice. However, the refrigerator supplier emphasised that orders can still be placed in the usual way, and its warehouse and delivery teams are operating as normal.
At light equipment specialist Nevilles, it has completely furloughed its head office and customer fulfilment centre sites. The company posted on social media: “We are unable to process any orders or to pick, pack and dispatch orders at this time.”
Orders may still be placed on the website but these will be held and then processed, picked, packed and dispatched as soon as it re-opens for business.
In the spares supply sector, the First Choice Group is also scaling down its operations to a level in line with the current demand because of the increasing effects of Covid-19. Its Cannock training centre has also temporarily postponed all training activities until 30 April.
While competitor, Caterparts, is implementing contingency plans to carry on trading normally whilst its supply chain allows it to. It reported on its social media channels that as it stands, the company is dispatching goods as normal but that this is subject to change at short notice.
The firm has also adopted a ‘work from home’ policy where applicable.