Retigo cuts out the middle man

Increasing wages in Retigo's home country, Czech Republic, have forced it to raise spares prices.

This year feels like a new start for Czech Republic-based combi oven manufacturer, Retigo.

The independent company has been supplying catering professionals in more than 50 countries for over 20 years, but it is now changing its approach to the UK market.

After using supplier Bradshaw to import its products, this year it decided a more hands-on approach was required.

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“Our strategy is to establish a network of key distributors/partners in various regions and sectors of the UK foodservice market,” said Marcel Vican, Retigo’s marketing and sales director.

The firm will be managing UK orders from its head office for now, with Vican and colleagues flying over as often as often as they can, but the eventual aim is to set up a local base. However, its parts supply is managed by the First Choice Group to ensure delivery within 24 hours.

The manufacturer will develop distributor relationships in the UK by actively approaching and visiting existing and potential UK dealers. “We will be supporting them and offering high quality product at an affordable price, enabling them to gain an interesting margin,” Vican added. “Our price to value ratio is second to none.” [[page-break]]

Retigo’s offer package comprises its two main combi oven lines, the high end Blue Vision and the entry level Orange Vision Extra, with both having self-cleaning as standard – a feature which is said to have low water consumption.

“Every combi oven we sell is accompanied by chef training and a UK-based culinary advisor,” detailed Vican. “We also provide technical training and support to distributors, their preferred service providers, or the service furnished by our UK-based service contractor.”

Blue Vision and the original version of Orange Vision were originally launched in 2007, with both becoming commercially available in 2008. “The ovens demonstrated revolutionary touch screen controls together with Retigo’s high quality standards,” Vican commented.

Following a slight facelift to both models in 2012, last year saw a major update to Orange Vision, which was re-launched as Orange Vision Extra.

The new version had been tested in select markets prior to its introduction and unlike the previous design, featured the low consumption self-cleaning function as standard.

“This step successfully answered the market needs for a highly reliable combi oven, equipped with all basic cooking functions and self-cleaning,” explained Vican. “Many chefs do not need over-specified ovens and many operators do not want to pay for over-specified products either.”

Retigo is not standing still with its product development, as it is planning to launch another new generation of combi ovens and a completely new gas oven line. [[page-break]]

Vican detailed: “We have undertaken extensive research and development, including consulting with chefs and evaluating the new products’ performance in real kitchen outfits.

“However, as our present portfolio of ovens still generates intensive sales growth as well as customer satisfaction, year on year, the new generation will only be introduced when we are completely prepared to deliver great benefits and added value to catering professionals.”

Retigo’s highest selling lines are its advanced direct steam generation models of its Blue Vision and Orange Vision Extra combi ovens. These include two-step water preheating and a heat exchanger to create the highest possible steam saturation.

The manufacturer also partners with Swiss company, Hugentobler, to add this firm’s Hold-o-Mat hot holding cabinet as a companion to its combi ovens. “This is a very good combination and brings extra value to HORECA-segment kitchens,” remarked Vican.

A recent major UK contract which strongly tested Retigo’s combi ovens was for Virgin Trains. Working with Redditch-based dealer, Aggora, the manufacturer supplied appliances for 56 Pendolino trains operated by Virgin as part of a fleet modernisation project in 2013 and 2014.

The specification called for two 623 Orange Vision Extra model ovens to be installed on each train. As the equipment would face a constantly moving environment, Retigo based the special design on its marine version ovens.

However, it also had to add some particular modifications to fit the trains’ kitchen requirements and arrangements. For example, the combi ovens’ height, feet, drain system and extraction system were customised. [[page-break]]

“All the work was carried out with great cooperation from the Aggora engineers,” reported Vican. “Plus our rough laboratory lifetime test focused on vibrations and proved the ovens’ high quality, demonstrating the effectiveness of all the custom-made modifications.”

Now that some of the ovens have been in use on the trains for more than 2 years, Vican reports that there has been much positive feedback from Virgin Trains as well as the chefs operating the appliances.

Last year marked the sixth time that Retigo attended the Host exhibition in Milan, with Vican commenting: “The show is always a great opportunity to play host to our present partners during a great industry event. All of our visitors loved our stand with its advanced live cooking presentation concept.

“New and interesting contacts from more than 40 countries around the world were established during the show.”

The firm also assisted the event’s Czech Republic pavilion by providing its combi ovens to cook the food for an evening reception at the pavilion.

Continuing its marketing push, Retigo has also booked up a stand at this year’s Hotelympia exhibition in London. This is the third consecutive time the manufacturer has attended, and its fourth time overall at the show.

Vican said: “Our presence at Hotelympia will support and confirm our commitment to our existing UK distributors as well as enabling us to develop partnerships with new ones.”

Going forwards, Vican is conscious that the UK market has specific requirements. “At the same time, our key customers’ needs and sought-after benefits in the UK are still high reliability, perfect cooking results, ease of use, efficiency and an affordable price.

“We believe that customer satisfaction will step by step increase Retigo’s UK presence and market share in the highest quality combi oven category.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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