In part one of two of Catering Insight’s focus on newcomers to the foodservice equipment supply chain, Commercial Catering Products is in focus.
The beginning of 2020 saw well-known industry figures Rob Gibson and Simon Callus come together to create supplier, Commercial Catering Products (CCP), after they had been discussing forming their own company for several years. Gibson recalled: “Covid was not really at the forefront of our minds at that time. We were keen to utilise our extensive knowledge of the industry and we felt we have a quite a unique skill set, having spent all our careers in equipment sales, winning specification from national accounts and driving the sale through the distributor supply chain. Between us, we have over 60 years’ experience.”
The timing was vital, as the pair saw an opportunity to take on the UK sales arm for combi oven manufacturer Retigo. According to Gibson: “We were keen to engage with the team at Retigo and we were overly impressed with them. After our own due diligence behind the company and the product, we quickly saw that everyone we spoke to only had high praise for both. A few months of negotiation with Retigo followed and we then set up CCP in March 2020, just before lockdown.”
With the coronavirus impact obviously throwing ‘business as usual’ into chaos, Gibson and Callus were unable to put their ‘old school’ face to face meeting strategy into action. “What hit us straight away was that both national account clients and distributors had furloughed a great deal of their teams, however, most accounts had retained their directors,” reported Gibson.
“Through committed legwork, it was recognised that we were keen to be pro-active during this time, whereas others seem to have hunkered down. Some of our old-fashioned face-to-face had to adapt to the new technology, and we adapted some of Retigo’s traditional material to use via communication platforms such as Zoom or Teams.”
While the market has undoubtedly been slower during this period, CCP is now seeing signs of pick-up, with more enquiries and orders coming through. Gibson believes: “We are confident that we can double the turnover of Retigo in the UK over the next 18 months. Retigo is an excellent product with great energy saving features that will appeal to both the national account sector and the project house supply chain. We have a full support structure, with in-house technical support headed up by our UK technical services manager Mike Griffiths, 26 months parts and labour warranty support, spares and chef training that will appeal to distributors.”
Gibson described the firm’s USPs: “CCP is a sales agency company; we represent leading manufacturers in the UK and help them drive their sales through specification and through the distributor supply chain.
“Whilst we lead with Retigo to establish Retigo UK, we also represent a couple of other manufacturers, creating ready access to leading specifiers and purchasing managers in national accounts and to the decision makers within the distributor supply chain.”
One of the latest brands the supplier has taken on is the Rapidchef accelerated cooker. “We are confident this will become the third choice of accelerated cooking behind Merrychef and Turbochef,” said Gibson. “Once again, we have the features, support structure and capital cost savings that will appeal to national accounts and distributors. We would also be looking to selectively grow our product portfolio.”
And as for his advice to other prospective entrepreneurs? “If you believe you have good idea, go for it. But do not expect immediate results, it will take a bit more time and effort to see the results, than in normal times. Keep focused, believe in yourself and the companies you represent – and always do what you say you are going to do!”