Competition from online sales channels continues to present a threat to traditional kitchen houses.For one distributor, preserving the values that businesses of its ilk have always been known for is its greatest weapon in this ongoing battle.
Internet selling continues to impact prices and business practices in the catering equipment industry, but Bristol-based QCM Equipment claims it is countering that threat by “turning back the clock” with an old school approach to business.
QCM is convinced that despite facing intense competition from web shops offering kit at knock-down prices, it can prosper with a business model based around a strong regional presence, relationships with a small number of leading manufacturers and qualified and specialised engineers.
Gerry Oakley, who runs the business, believes this three-pronged strategy is enough to fend off competition from “faceless” internet companies.
“Far from being a backward step, we believe this offers our customers the best of both worlds — undoubtedly internet-based businesses have influenced prices but being based locally means we can very easily offer expert guidance to our customers in their own premises,” he says. “It’s also far easier to assess the ‘hidden’ factors which a busy caterer simply cannot be expected to foresee, like access into a building, and impart our specialist knowledge of areas like kitchen ventilation and gas regulations.”
He continues: “We also have all the added advantages of in-house specialist support like kitchen design, ventilation system manufacture, ‘made to measure’ stainless steel fabrication and custom-built servery counters which the internet-based dealers cannot easily offer.”
QCM has been operating for more than a decade and was originally set up as a services outfit by Dave Salmon and Alan Truelove. Oakley joined the pair 18 months ago to form QCM Equipment after most recently serving as a director of Bradford-based Airedale Catering Equipment.
“I have spent a lifetime in catering equipment and have successfully designed and managed projects throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe in every sector of the foodservice industry from healthcare to hotels, restaurants and bars, airports and staff catering,” he says.
QCM’s clients include the University of Bristol, Harvey Nichols and IKEA as well as many well-known independent restaurants. The company has aligned itself with a small number of manufacturers, including Hobart, Rational, Blue Seal, Moorwood Vulcan and Foster, which affords it complete focus on the kit it supplies.
Dave Salmon says that all the brands it carries are experts in their own fields and have proved their ability over many years to produce reliable equipment that offers a long term return on investment.
“As we have our own employed engineers and handle service calls on a daily basis we have constant feedback on what really performs well in tough conditions,” he comments. “Over the life of a piece of equipment you will inevitably find that spending a little more on a good quality product initially will save you both money and lost time in the longer run.”
Although QCM has embraced digital media by establishing a web and mobile presence, it draws inspiration for its business values by looking “proudly backwards”.
Oakley says: “Above all, working in a small geographic area means we are more reliant than most on repeat business so it’s vital that we work to the highest standards and that customers are happy to keep coming back and to recommend us. It’s no surprise that many of our clients have been with us since the business started and have grown with us — which has got to be good measure of our success.”
Name: QCM Equipment
Address: Leamon Farm House, The Street, Compton Martin, Bristol, BS40 6JF
Telephone: 0844 241 2316
Certifications: Safe Contractor Approved, Gas Safe Register
Key brands: Falcon, Foster, Hobart, Instanta, Lincat, Rational, Victor
Focus: Design, installation and servicing of commercial kitchens