You could say that Rosinox’s move to a purpose-built production plant worthy of cementing its position among the manufacturing elite was a long time coming.
The company, widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of the French cooking equipment scene, can call on more than 170 years of manufacturing experience, which takes some beating whatever way you look at it.
And while the appearance and functionality of its products have evolved to match market demands over the years, it is fair to say that its growth aspirations were being held back somewhat by the limitation of its manufacturing plant.
The factory which it was based in until the end of last year was not only old-fashioned, but lacked the right kind of layout to comfortably accommodate new machinery or ways of working.
Today, things couldn’t be more different. The new 10,000 square metre site has been constructed from scratch, bringing its design, sales, technical and production departments under one roof.
Yet, while the site offers all the advantages that you would imagine of a modern, purpose-built factory, the company is proud of the fact that it continues to retain the techniques responsible for fuelling its reputation as one of the industry’s most dexterous manufacturers of catering equipment.
“It is a new factory but apart from the laser cutting machine and folding machines you won’t see things being made by lots of robotic systems,” says Giuseppe ‘Peppo’ Politi, Rosinox’s export manager and a face that many of Rosinox’s UK dealers will be familiar with. “There is still a lot of welding, polishing, grinding and assembly — it is very labour-intensive and skilled.”
The new site is just 10km from its former home in Bourges, in the centre of France. Significantly, this has meant the company has been able to retain all of its workforce and their skills and knowledge of production techniques — something that would have been jeopardised had it moved elsewhere.
“It has been a big investment for us — around €10m (£8.5m) — but it was the right one, especially because it has meant we have been able to keep all of the know-how in the business,” says Rosinox’s managing director, Bruno Nahan, whose arrival at the manufacturer has given Rosinox fresh impetus and a new strategic vision for growth over the past 18 months.
“In France, if you moved your factory to another region in the country you would lose most of your people because they would not wish to move. It is not like the US where it is more in the cultural psyche of the people to move regions. Here it doesn’t happen — so that would have been a big risk.”
Unlike some manufacturers in mainland Europe, Rosinox does not close down at the end of each summer, so remarkably it had to complete the switch while production schedules continued. Warehousing, raw materials, spare parts and its 110-strong workforce all had to be moved without any impact on customer orders or deliveries.
Efforts are now being made to tweak the factory flow in a bid to further enhance productivity and efficiency and reduce lead times, though a large portion of Rosinox’s activities involve bespoke production where naturally the time from order to delivery is always longer anyway.
Says Politi: “The lead times are definitely improving in the new factory — not always as the market would wish from time to time — but we try to compensate for that by identifying the most urgently-needed products from the customer and hold stocks of the finished product.”
Politi is responsible for Rosinox’s activities outside of France and he admits it is rare these days to be involved in a project where some degree of customisation is not needed.
“On the export side I would say I almost get no orders without special requests these days,” he says. “It could be from a hole in the worktop or the incorporation of a pot rack all the way up to a customised one-piece top. There is always something required that is not sold in the catalogue.”
Fortunately, Rosinox’s new home affords it the flexibility and scope to meet the needs of all customers, bespoke or otherwise, and irrespective of how ambitious the project appears to be. Furthermore, it has the space to be able to ramp up production levels as and when demand requires.
Eagle-eyed visitors to Rosinox’s stand at the HOST show in Italy last year would have spotted early prototypes of the first new range to be developed at the factory. A full-scale launch is planned for later this year.
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So what does all this mean for the UK market, where Rosinox is represented by Dawson, a fellow member of the Ali Group?
Politi says the recent investments it has made should give UK distributors and other market partners confidence in the strength, reliability and performance of its products, as well as its long term future.
“In terms of turnover, the UK is one of the most important export markets for us. Secondly, it is important because most of the highly respected consultants are based in England and due to their experience and skills they have been able to expand their activities in booming markets like the Middle East. The English influence is therefore important not only as a single market for us but also as a way to open other markets.
“For us it is also about trying to stay close to the dealers that have known Rosinox for many years and can promote the brand in a good way, which means fighting for longevity, not prices. We are able to do the battle, but we don’t want to lose the war, so we would rather compete by showing the advantages and features that we can offer. We have a consistent, heavy duty product supported by Dawson, which can assist with installation, service, stock and spare parts.”
Rosinox’s standard range currently encompasses 700, 800, 900 and 1000 lines, providing it with sufficient breadth to accommodate kitchen fit-outs of almost any size. Its 800 series, which it launched three years ago, has seen particularly strong growth. It can deliver the power and efficiency that customers want, but in a smaller footprint than its larger models.
Its partnership with Dawson has typically opened the door to projects involving restaurants, hotels and prestigious education sites. In recent times, Rosinox suites have gone into places such as The Fat Duck, Leeds City College, Sushisamba, Cafe Royal and Brasserie Zedel.
In future it would like to explore more opportunities in the public sector, although Politi stresses that were this to happen it must not be to the detriment of the previous hard work that has been done to develop the sales channel.
“As I said, we want to get closer to our dealers to show them the benefits of Rosinox and emphasise that what we are offering is not just a catalogue product. We have to understand that Rosinox cannot be sold to everybody, so we cannot cover every market segment.”
That view is endorsed by Dawson’s marketing manager, Glen Crossland, who, like Politi, says the brand is well established — it just need to reach out to the right partners and customers.
“Rosinox can be what you want it to be, it is just about getting a consistent message across to the right consultants and dealers, so that they can then translate that to the end-users,” says Crossland. “When people think of Rosinox they’ll probably sum it up in a few words like ‘bespoke’, ‘quality’, and ‘heavy duty’, and we are happy with that — the challenge comes with spreading that message further.”
Rosinox has taken some major steps in the past year, but with the workforce reinvigorated and the new plant offering the sort of flexibility it could only have dreamt of before, MD Bruno Nahan believes there is a real opportunity for the brand to push on.
His message to UK partners is simple: “We want to demonstrate that we are a strong organisation and the investment we have put in has resulted in us implementing a more efficient, rational flow of manufacturing. The motivation is there to grow the UK market through the new products that we are developing.”
A brief guide to Rosinox’s ranges
Rosinox provides a range of premier modular, cantilever and bespoke cooking suites. Here is a rundown to its current offering:
900mm range, 300 to 400 covers a day
Royal Chef Modulaire
Heavy duty range, 300 to 1,000 covers a day
Royal Chef 800
800mm range, features more than 170 modules
Royal Chef S
Cantilevered suite, for intensive use
Royal Chef Exclusive
Bespoke cooking suite, features more than 180 products