Catering Insight caught up with Parry Stainless Steel Products’ MD, Mark Banton, on how the British manufacturer has coped with the crisis, innovating with new products, and how it can help the educational sector as English schools reopened:
How did Parry adapt its operations throughout lockdown and subsequently?
Our priority at the onset of the lockdown was the health, safety, and welfare of our staff. It was essential that we provided every member of staff with concise up-to-date communication on government guidelines and then ensure that as a business we adhered to those guidelines.
Over a period of a few weeks our order book changed from catering equipment and fabrications to purely mobile wash basins with enquiries in the thousands. This presented us with a fantastic opportunity to prove our credentials as an ‘agile manufacturer’, but not without difficult and significant supply chain issues to overcome.
All manufacturing cells were reconfigured to single product manufacture and broken down into micro-operations. The cell capacities were then balanced for efficient throughput.
The next step was to balance production output and sales orders with a highly disrupted supply chain but also planning for a doubling of production output as we improved efficiencies by adopting the lean initiative ‘theory of constraints’.
The overriding critical success factor in supplying our customers was to establish duality through the supply chain.
Demand for hygiene products has evened out now whilst catering equipment and fabrications orders have increased, so our new internal processes and operations are well embedded and providing the extra capacity we need.
What adjustments did Parry make to its products to cater for today’s extra hygiene requirements?
Flexibility and adaptability are key to our success as a business and have been critical over the last 5 months, particularly in providing suitable hygiene solutions.
We have developed our Mobile Hand Wash Basin into a product range that now encompasses all our customers’ requests. The newest variant, which is coming soon, includes an air blade tap solution and was developed in an exclusive partnership with the global brand and world leader in this sector.
Demand for our new servery range, Flexi-Serve, has been and continues to be very encouraging. The assisted glass option we designed provides a fully enclosed fascia that suits current hygiene requirements perfectly; it’s a standard offering for the whole range and can also be easily changed at any time in the future should the customer wish to update their servery.
How is Parry’s trade level compared to previous years, and how is it progressing as the hospitality industry slowly ramps up?
We’re delighted to say that trade is up by 35% and this is at a constant.
It’s impossible to predict the future and gauge how quickly the hospitality sector will recover, and to what extent. The only certainty when forecasting the market recovery and budgeting accordingly is to facilitate for unpredictability with contingencies and pivots.
What our customers can be confident of and we continue to demonstrate is that we are an agile manufacturer with a world class on-time in-full (OTIF) delivery and the essential flexibility and adaptability to succeed in the current marketplace.
With schools in England poised to reopen, how will this impact their kitchen design and layout?
Most school kitchens will have to adapt in some way and this will depend on their new method of service.
To achieve social distancing for staff the kitchens are likely to require increased and clearly defined additional work stations and one-way traffic routes. The solutions could range from additional work benches to temporary portable kitchens to procuring duplicate catering equipment.
How the provision of any school meal is actually accomplished will need to be well planned and controlled and implemented. Most current lunch services are designed around a kitchen which includes a fixed counter and a communal seating area. These arrangements will only now be workable for much lower numbers of pupils, consequently alternative methods of meal delivery and service are the priority.
Feedback suggests that pupils dining in classrooms in bubble groups will become the norm for now.
What products do you think school kitchens will find particularly useful at this time?
Serving a large number of small groups in separate bubbles will require multiple service points facilitating the safe transport of bulk food from the kitchen to the bubble groups around the school.
Parry provides a range of solutions for this type of service, the most flexible and efficient being the Flexi-Serve modular servery range which is available with assisted service gantries that are fully enclosed ensuring an extra layer of separation between food, staff and pupils.
Running on a single 13A plug, Flexi-Serve can be easily moved and situated in classrooms, sports halls or other spaces to provide a safe, cost effective, energy efficient serving solution for any size of bubble group.
How can Parry help dealers generate more equipment sales, in either educational or other end user sectors?
Parry has created a number of dealer and end user focused initiatives to raise awareness and generate sales.
Our ‘Back to School’ flyer provides dealers with a one-stop-shop of foodservice and hygiene solutions that are now in high demand.
Parry has also secured access to an LEA pre-approved finance package specifically with the challenges of the educational sector in mind. Parry dealers can now offer an alternative payment option to schools via our partner, Tower Leasing, details of which are available from our sales office.