Knaresborough-based Marshall Catering Equipment has been trading since 1975, so it has experienced all the ups and downs that the industry has faced in the last 45 years. Covid-19 brought a completely new set of challenges, but the design and project house showed it was able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and support customers diversifying in the face of lockdown restrictions. Director Jonathan Skinner reflects on how the market has changed and where the dealer sees its future.
Which kitchen trends do you expect to have the most impact on your business or solutions during 2021?
I think energy efficiency will be high on operators’ lists for both environmental reasons, and so caterers can save money in the long run. Energy efficient equipment often combines performance with functionality whilst cutting the cost of bills. By reviewing the full lifetime cost of the appliance itself and the cost of usage caterers can ultimately reduce future costs and consumption.
However, primarily I think just reopening and resuming regular trade will be the main focus for most businesses. That first month back we are expecting to see a surge in one-off sales and repair calls as catering equipment starts to see an increased demand in usage.
Have you seen customers significantly adapt their kitchen operations in any way over the past 12 months? If so, do you feel that such adaptations are here to stay?
At Marshall Catering Equipment we have seen a significant change in commercial kitchens as many of our customers have moved into the takeaway side of food retail.
I think for many, takeaway services were not a revenue stream that they were expecting to find much value in, but some have really taken to it and it has become a popular service with their customers. From this, I think food retailers will be offering takeaway services for a while, even once the pandemic has ended.
Do you expect the Covid-19 pandemic to have a lasting effect on any aspects of the way commercial kitchens are designed in 2021?
Since the pandemic started, we have been working with venues, helping them adjust to a Covid environment with a number of new products and services such as screens, sanitisation stations and deep cleaning services. I believe, even when the pandemic has run its course, there will still be a demand for these products and services due to the increased awareness surrounding hygiene.
What kind of product areas do you think will be most in demand initially?
We’re expecting to see the obvious increased sanitisation needs from UV products and handwash stations. Alongside this, we believe food holding appliances will be required due to the rising popularity of takeaways.
What do you think will be the most important factors for operators when it comes to kitchen design in 2021?
Namely the usual, energy efficiency, output, preparation space, sanitisation and the ability to upgrade. Money will be tight for most in the short term while operators get back to normal, so anyone opening a restaurant will most likely go for a basic but easily upgradable design getting the main aspects in place, ready to swap equipment out when that finance is available.
How would you describe Marshall Catering’s plans for 2021 and what is the team most looking forward to?
Our plans for 2021 are to recover from the ongoing pandemic and build on what we have learned over the last year. We aim to work in and around project work, further developing our BIM offering, tender creation and consultancy work. I think the team is most looking forward to everything settling down and us returning back to some form of normality – just generally going to the office and bringing structure back to the working week will be a huge lift!
It’s difficult to predict what the future holds, especially after the last 12 months. But when it all settles, do you have a feeling for what your most popular service might be this year?
It’s hard to say but I think our consultancy work will be popular given the extremely high standard we work to, we are able to trim the rubbish out of tenders we receive and give people great value for money as well as great design.