Newcastle dealership collapses over Christmas

Heaton Catering Equipment website crop
Heaton Catering Equipment’s website is still currently operational.

Online dealer, Heaton Catering Equipment, is to be wound up voluntarily after calling in the liquidators.

A notification posted on the London Gazette website on Christmas Eve detailed that the Newcastle-based business held a general meeting at the local branch of business advisory firm, FRP Advisory, on 21 December.

The posting detailed that resolutions were passed “that the company be wound up voluntarily and that Andrew Haslam and Tonya Allison, both of FRP Advisory Trading Limited, Newcastle upon Tyne, are hereby appointed joint liquidators for the purposes of such winding up and that anything required or authorised to be done by the joint liquidators be done by both or either of them.”

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According to the statement of affairs listed on Companies House, the dealer has accrued over £278,000 of trade debts. Major brands at the top of the creditor list include Nevilles, Zodiac, Rational UK, RBD Uropa and Churchill China.

Heaton Catering Equipment was run by the Henry family, with major shareholders comprising Alan, Gary, Linda, Paul and Steven. It was established in its current guise in 2002 according to Companies House, however, the dealer’s website, which is still operational, says that the family business started in 1950.

The website also states that Heaton was a specialist supplier of commercial catering equipment, restaurant and kitchen supplies, including fully designed bespoke commercial kitchens, bar and food servery installations to both public, private sector customers and consumers.

It offered a range of customer services including free site surveys and quotations, design, installation, commissioning and servicing of catering appliances, product demonstrations, and leasing facilities.

Steven Henry is also the director of Pro Catering Equipment, which was incorporated last May and until July 2020 traded from the same Newcastle address as Heaton Catering Equipment, latterly moving to a Wallsend headquarters. While Gary Henry incorporated a company called Primosten Ltd on 30 November 2020.

Calls to Heaton Catering Equipment’s main line are met with a recorded message stating that “due to the Covid pandemic” all enquiries should be directed to the dealer’s general sales email address.

Catering Insight has requested comment from FRP on why the liquidation was deemed necessary.

Tags : businessdealerdistributorheaton catering equipmentinsolvencyinsolventliquidationout of businesswinding up
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls


  1. Terribly sorry to hear this – my heart goes out to you all at this really difficult time.
    Holly Francis

  2. Online price sharks. Suppliers were warned and told about their price policy. They Devalued products and brands. Zero sympathy.

  3. Sad news. 2020 was a tough year for everyone in the catering supply industry although supplying “free surveys and drawings” would not have helped the cause.
    Wer’e here if needed

  4. Another example of a heavy discounter failing. The damage they do to pricing whilst trading affects many companies. This heavy discounting does not work. We have all seen many companies that damage margins fail and leave their mark with low end user pricing. Neville UK have been particularly guilty of supporting this company and causing other distributors to suffer low margins in order to enable sales by having to price match.

      1. I have tried speaking to you Andrew. Unfortunately my answer from Neville’s was that there was nothing you could do about advertised prices and that they were one of your biggest customers. On the back of that my discount was cut for not doing enough turnover. I explained this had dropped due to my customers going on line to buy at prices I didn’t want to match. I never heard back.

    1. As someone who was aware of the discounts Heaton Catering Equipment had, I can say that they genuinely were indeed practically giving the product away.

      The problem the likes of Nevilles and many other suppliers have, is they can’t simply drop discounts because their distributors are selling on at a margin that is too low, that would lead to accusations of Price Fixing.

      Sadly all the suppliers can do is sit and wait until they go bust. But then make sure they don’t deal with the same people under a different name in future.

      Some companies do go under for genuine reasons, but for the internet dealers like Shop-Equip, Hopkins, GlobalFSE, Fridgeland and so on, you could almost sit back and place bets on who’s going to go bust next.

      The industry is really starting to turn a corner and I’d say that it’s not nearly as saturated with drop-shipping internet dealers as it was even 2 or 3 years ago. It’s time to keep it that way and start locking down discount terms. Basing discount on factors such as having reps on the road, a showroom, holding stock, managing warranties etc etc is a fantastic way to weed out the box shifters and is something the industry should adopt more widely. Hat’s off to Robot-Coupe for that one.

    2. Whilst it’s easy to pick over the bones of another distributor carcus it is however sad to see a long standing family business go under, there will be plenty more to come of that I’m sure with the true measure of carnage from covid yet to be felt. “Stack em high and sell em cheap” I can see why that approach sticks in in the craw for many fellow distributors & why sympathy is in short supply but as comments above have pointed out above its the suppliers that choose what deals they are willing to put their distributors on often through added pressure by their business for aggressive growth year on year or they’ll lose their jobs and the bigger the volume= the bigger the discount in both light & heavy equipment. Some of these “Web companies” actually run their business quite well and despite the low margins they make on some brands they compensate by making higher margins on perhaps lesser desirable or known brands where they may even have exclusivity on in some cases. I think the view that the industry is changing Keith may be quite a niave one and a bit premature with the way it is right now, the industry is split into a variety of sectors of supply for example heavy equipment has anything from plug & play for a takeawy to project lead supply chains for a huge new build (which are also often provided at very low margins by many) where two completely types of products may be used and two completely different markets targeted by suppliers. It’s when these two worlds collide and the suppliers are stuck in the middle that these feelings of annomosity rear their ugly heads, in truth a strong business should always plan their margins accordingly to keep the lights on and make a decent profit rather than chasing unicorns that isn’t really their type of market but everyone wants to increase their business right? There’s plenty of suppliers in this market across all spectrums who have the portfolios to supply the relevant markets at both the top and lower ends but so many larger ones want the whole cake not just their own sizable slice thus causing internal conflict within their own distribution channel. This industry won’t change any time soon as the pressure I pointed out above will only intensivy once the pandemic eases and share holders want their pots topped back up and that will only come from massively increasing sales volumes so there will be more deals to be done and if the distributors who receive choose to pass them on to their clients? Well that can’t be dictated by suppliers as the industry has seen before with the price fixing case of a few years back.

  5. What is wrong with people. The only reason a business goes burst / fails is mis management of the situation. Its nothing to do with price discounters or anything else. Pure and simply the people running the businesses are either not competent enough or had no foresight / ability to react to market conditions changing around them.

    Heatons advertised products they couldn’t supply at prices they could afford to sell at.

    It was the same years ago when everyone cried “box shifter” and the “real dealers” (what joke that term is) said that catalogue sales — yes catalogue sales !! and then internet sales wouldn’t survive and that these firms were damaging the market. Back then I had no sympathy for people like that and even today I have none either. If it was an unfortunate event like a fire or catastrophic failure within the business then yes, some sympathy, but failing because you couldn’t run a business properly – do me a favour ! So what if your biggest customer goes burst and owes you money – why did you let them run up that debt, why didnt you have bad debt insurance cover, why did you think it was okay to overspend on staff and shiny offices just to look good to your peers. People need to take responsibility for their own actions and not blame others.

    This industry suffers from people living in the past who cannot face change and dont wont to move forward. They have their own little groups / clubs that snipe about everyone else and act high and mighty when in fact they should be taking care of their own business first and foremost.

    Last year I sold my company for a good price, We had a healthy balance sheet and showed profit year on year for the last 10 years. I kept staff costs low and oversaw the operation. Never once did I take on more than I could afford. I bought directly from manufacturers in the UK, Europe and the far east and can assure you that there is no rocket science to making a business work. Quite simply I didnt care what any other company did and I sold at whatever price was right and what margin I though we could make.

    Manufacturers dont care about prices items are sold at as long as they make their required margin. People need to stop posturing and examine what they need to do to make their business work and then do it, regardless of how hard it may seem, instead of just whinging on.

    People used to wonder how my company could sell at the prices we did, and thought we were making a, loss or about to go under. I just laughed at them as I knew how solid my business model was. A simple moto was cash is king. Credit and debt mean nothing.

    Wake up people and realise you need to change with the times otherwise they could well be writing about your business going burst in a future edition of Catering Insight……..

  6. Alan G – Completley right. I’ve bought and sold catering equipment for over 40 years and seen many names bandied around. It used to be if you didn’t attend exhibitions you were not a real distributor, if you didn’t have a catalogue you were not etc. etc. I charge for my drawings and advice and re-imburse the client when they place the order with me. I do less than I could but at least it turns a (small) profit. All on margins way too tight for everyone.. Nearly £300k of trade debts is a huge amount for a company of that size before the directors realisied what was happening. I’m told the brothers are already back in the game with two different companies. Good luck to them. As always, it’s the suppliers, HMRC and the customers who pick up the pieces.
    No one plans to crash, all you can do is try to plan the crash landing !
    Here if needed

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