Dunstable-based Advance Group comes in at number five in this year’s Power Players, generating £15.4m of turnover in the 12 months of its financial year to 31 March 2018.
However, revenue did fall 15% from the £18.1 garnered in the previous year, and operating profit also dipped 25% from 0.7m to 0.5m, with both totals reflecting difficult economic conditions.
Advance chairman, Steve Coates, put the latest figures into context, commenting: “The directors are very pleased with the trading results in what was a very challenging year for the industry. Despite the slowdown in turnover the company still delivered an acceptable level of profit.”
Coates evaluated: “We live in interesting and challenging times in the catering equipment world.
“For those companies who served the casual dining sector it has been very challenging, with chains like Jamie’s (one of our customers) on the list of casualties in that sector. Over 750 restaurants have closed in the last 2 years. This has taken a massive supply out of the kitchen projects market.
“Fortunately we did anticipate some, if not all of the slow down. In 2016 we started to develop projects in new channels. This has started to reap rewards and we have a healthy pipeline of projects in new channels for the summer.”
Advance’s focus is still on innovation and finding ways to add value to its customers, for both its projects and asset management businesses. Though Coates emphasised: “These days is not enough just to do a good job. There has to be a deeper connection to the customer. That’s what we have been working to develop at Advance. Our ‘Intequip’ intelligent asset management system has gone a long way in supporting the added value that we now provide customers on a daily basis.
“We were so pleased with the return, and customer benefits from Intequip, we decide to develop our own equipment sales management software known as ‘OneClick’. This enables us to manage complex customer pricing, estimating, electronic ordering, installation management, and invoicing all in one system. OneClick was launched this year and is used in both the projects and asset management businesses.”
Subsequent to the latest published financial results, in December 2018 the distributor acquired the majority share in Prestige Catering Equipment. “The team at Prestige have done a brilliant job and had a record year in their first full year under Advance ownership,” reported Coates.
“Our model is to continue to acquire and work with like-minded business owners across the UK to deliver added value to end users through the great people within the group, supported by our bespoke back office catering equipment management software.”
What would Advance’s chairman, Steve Coates, recommend start-up distributors do to reach the top of the industry? “My own piece of advice would be to build and construct the business around the needs of your targeted customers. Then be obsessed about delivering it in the business every day,” he said.
Power Players 2019 is sponsored by Turbochef. To visit the company’s website, click HERE.