Italian cooking equipment brand Olis has sprung a major surprise by appointing a new UK importer, seemingly without consulting its existing long-term distribution partner first.
The company has given Euro Catering Equipment the rights to market its brand in the UK, with the Leicestershire-based supplier confirming it would be buying directly from Olis’ factory.
Until now, Olis equipment had been brought into the UK by Universal FSE, which is also the exclusive importer of fellow Ali Group brand Baron.
However, Universal FSE confirmed this afternoon that it is ending the partnership with Olis due to the appointment of an additional distributor as it does not believe that a dual importing model will work in the UK.
Universal’s current Olis brand manager, Ken Ford, will instead transfer to the Baron brand as the company looks to ramp up this side of its business.
Olis’ decision to bring in a new importer came as a major blow to Universal given it has spent the past 18 months putting in a place a regional dealer model designed to give the brand extensive geographic coverage and support throughout the UK.
Roger Flanagan, managing director of Universal, said: “This [appointment] has taken place even though Olis management seemingly don’t realise what’s at stake and the fact that we have several distribution partners relying on us and this brand, who now will have a different importer with probably different prices and different terms and possibly direct competition. We employed a brand manager two years ago to set up the UK partnerships with regional distributors, who has done a really good job and currently has over £2m of live quotations outstanding.”
Flanagan said Universal would be offering all its customers the opportunity to swap to the Baron brand. Even though it is more expensive it is giving the products at previously quoted prices so that dealers won’t be disadvantaged.
“We are writing to all our customers explaining the position, so all will be informed shortly, but those distributors we have already spoken to are equally as annoyed as we are and all have expressed disgust at the way we have been treated,” said Flanagan.
With Universal cancelling all of its activity with Olis, the brand will effectively be left with one importer again for the time being.
Euro Catering confirmed that it would selling the full Olis portfolio, including the 650, 700 and 900 series lines, as well as a 1100 series island suite. It intends to have a range of 700 and 900 series equipment on display at its new showroom in Wembley, which is due to open later this month.
Euro Catering Equipment’s managing director, Tim Charlton, said the partnership is actually a renewal of its links with Olis, as it previously worked with the brand up until a few years ago.
“We have had nearly 20 years of working with Olis, and know the product range very well,” he said. “Not only do we know the new line of equipment, we also know the previous product lines dating back to the early 1980s and still carry a range of spare parts for both the new lines and the old.”
“We feel we can grow the profile of the Olis brand in the UK and with having our showroom in London, customers will be able to see it in the flesh,” he added. “The Olis brand is also backed up with our in house 3D design software allowing customers to visit us and pre-plan their kitchen prior to ordering.”