Meet your 100 Greats: Business Developments, part 1

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Catering Insight is celebrating its 100th issue with a run-down of 100 UK catering equipment industry greats, comprising people, projects, equipment and business developments.

Today we take an in-depth look at the first section of business developments: Shine’s BIM pioneering, Nisbets’ Space buyout, the CEDA Academy, First Choice acquired by Parts Town and Lloyd Catering Equipment’s virtual reality.


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Shine BIM pioneering

During the last decade, Newport-based Shine Catering Systems has been heavily involved in the adoption of BIM (building information modelling) within the catering industry, and was highly recognised as being one of the pioneers of introducing BIM packages through Revit to many public and private sector projects.

Shine also provided advice and support to manufacturers whilst they developed their own families, and developed many of the families for and on behalf of the manufacturers. As the distributor was heavily involved with government projects covering the MOD, MOJ, NHS and education sectors, it was therefore at the forefront of the earliest BIM projects, providing input and working with main contractors in helping them construct their own BIM protocols.

The company also been asked to present at government led co-ordination and lunch events for SMEs as the requirement for BIM on government projects gained pace and many SMEs were left to consider how they were to adopt and implement this new style of drawing and information output.

Nisbets’ space buyout

2016 saw the market’s largest distributor, Nisbets, take a controlling stake in kitchen design house, Space Group. This complementary partnership saw Nisbets’ light equipment expertise dovetail with Space’s design and installation background, with both firms able to generate leads for the other.

The deal took Space from being more focused on its Gloucestershire locality to a major national player, with Nisbets both integrating it into its wider business yet keeping it as a separate entity and adding value where it can.

The Gloucester distributor’s financial performance has since been flying high, with revenue virtually doubling within 5 years and the firm delivering record profitable growth in a tough market.

Space Group itself had acquired fabricator Holmes Catering Equipment Solutions at the end of 2014 and managed to turn the company around from loss-making to profit within the first year or two. The fabricator’s customer base is now much wider than previously, with its traditional retail and hotel chain clientele supplemented by Space and Nisbets custom, as well as returning clients helping to bolster its coffers.

CEDA Academy

As part of an initiative to reach out to the younger generation, CEDA launched the CEDA Academy group in 2015.

This aims to help more young people enter and progress in the UK catering equipment industry, encouraging rising talent to share their experiences, knowledge and ambitions. Aimed at employees aged under 30, the Academy taps into and shares the knowledge of participants from all job disciplines.

The group meets several times a year at various major catering equipment brands’ premises for training and debate. The CEDA Academy has now attracted over 20 members from both dealers and suppliers.

First Choice acquired by Parts Town

Spares specialist First Choice Group was bought out by US counterpart Parts Town in a move that shook up the European catering equipment market in 2017.

The deal gave First Choice access to the largest in-stock inventory of OEM parts anywhere in the world and opened up new avenues of business for the company in Europe, as well as potential new partnerships with global brands.

Parts Town’s backing gave First Choice the chance to even more heavily invest in stock, as well as increase the amount of master distribution agreements with big name manufacturers in the UK.

Lloyd Catering Equipment virtual reality

South Yorkshire-based commercial kitchen specialist Lloyd Catering Equipment was one of the first to plough investment into developing a virtual reality (VR) capability for kitchen designs over the last few years.

The room-scale VR system helps its designers and clients to test the functionality and workflow of a design prior to installation. Room-scale VR uses a combination of movement and headset tracking within an area to accurately simulate moving in the virtual environment, allowing the user to move freely around a design in a very natural and intuitive way.

The system allows clients to step inside a proposed design and to accurately judge space and how different elements of the design interact with one another.

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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