In the second of two discussions chaired by Catering Insight editor, Clare Nicholls, at the inaugural Commercial Kitchen show, the subject of value engineering was under the spotlight, and whether equipment substitution is making a mockery of the market.

An expert panel comprising Iain Munro, MD of ScoMac Catering Equipment, Tyron Stephens-Smith, designer, TAG Catering Equipment, and Carla McKenzie, MD of MYA Consulting, discussed how project partners can really get value out of a commercial kitchen scheme.

CN: What is your response when end users request that a kitchen project is value engineered?

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CM: Before you start a project you should establish a sensible and realistic budget with the client. On that basis you would have teased out a substantial design brief and looked at the business proposition to accompany that and a number of other factors. So if you’re at the point where you are looking for large scale savings, then I think that it’s important to go back to the first principles of that design and where the client started with the vision.

IM: Value engineering is a difficult topic, particularly with independent clients who have perhaps set an unrealistic aspirational budget about the equipment they want to select. There are a number of other reasons the question might be asked, such as building constraints. The bottom line is that the kitchen is always going to be sacrificed to the front of house when it comes down to budget.

But I think the concern we would have is about establishing that they fully understand what the budget requirements are to deliver the offer that they are trying to set up. So it is a situation where we could easily help them in providing alternatives around some of the less key elements.

On a project where the end user has engaged with a professional consultant, it would probably be the builders that are asking us for value engineering, because they are looking to take advantage of the specification. We have regularly lost work because people have exposed or taken advantage of a specification. The client may not know what he’s actually got until the end result. But that’s not saying that some clients do go through that process with a professional consultant to come up with a scheme, and then want to start making savings.