Lothian-headquartered ScoMac Catering Equipment usually publishes its annual results at around the same time the Power Players rankings finds its way into print, so we can currently only include the Scottish distributor on the strength of its 2018 report.
Even then, it looked like the Unitech Group firm was steering through some choppy headwinds in the market. For the year ending 31 December 2018 the distributor recorded an £11.7m turnover, 11% less than the 2017 financial year’s total of £13.2m. Operating profit fell by an even higher proportion of 62%, from 2017’s £663k to £249k in 2018. Gross profit margin, too, was also down by a couple of percentage points, from 30 to 28%.
At the time of publication, Nick Imlah, CEO of Unitech Group stated in the report: “Trading conditions were difficult, which is shown through decreases in turnover and margins compared with the previous year. But the company was in a sound financial state at the year end.”
He further analysed: “The company has a limited ability to pass onto customers current significant increases in raw materials commodity prices. We are constantly subject to pressure on prices from our competitors, and without cost control and investment in new products, there is a risk that profitability could be reduced.”
Nevertheless, even though ScoMac slipped two places in this year’s Power Players, it remains one of the top kitchen design houses in the UK. Steven Shepherd has been tasked with taking the helm of the business since his promotion from operations director to MD last year. But what does he think is crucial in managing a successful company in this industry? “I have had and continue to have good teachers, learn to be patient, be a good listener then be decisive in your actions,” he said.
With the onset of the current Covid-19 pandemic, Shepherd and his team have very much been tested. He reported: “Like most our revenue has dropped considerably over the last few months and we have had to batten down the hatches to preserve the business.
“We have tried to maintain good routes of communication with our staff, suppliers and customer base through these times and we do hope to come out of this stronger.”
In terms of how ScoMac has fared compared to others, he commented: “I’m sure it’s been difficult for most of our industry over the last few months and we are no different, having offices across the UK we are now starting to see the lights being turned on in some markets which is promising but we have still have a long way to go.
“It’s good to hear when others have had success and we do hope that everyone in the industry manages to pull through this, but it will take us all time to reshape our business to suit.”
And on the subject of prospects for the next financial year, he concluded: “That’s a difficult one to answer at this stage. Getting back the full team with all our sleeves rolled up will be a good start – let’s see what happens thereafter.”
What would ScoMac Catering Equipment MD Steven Shepherd advise the industry at this time? “You need good communication with your supply and customer chain, as there is an even greater focus across the industry on credit, funding and debts – and don’t bite off more than you can chew.”