It was just over a year ago that Glen Dimplex Professional Appliances (GDPA) surprised the market by announcing wide-ranging changes to the Burco and Lec brands that it produces.
The Glen Dimplex group broke GDPA up, ceasing production of Burco cooking ranges and Lec commercial refrigeration, though the latter brand remains in the medical and domestic spheres.
Burco was re-tasked with a water boiler-only focus, and folded into the Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation (GDHV) division. However, the timing of the announcement raised eyebrows, as only a few months prior, Burco had launched its much-anticipated Titan Induction Range Cooker with five hob zones onto the market.
John Usher, who was head of sales and marketing at GDPA, moved over to GDHV as head of its catering channel. He says: “I think the Titan would have been a really good success for us but we would have wanted to develop other things on the back of it. However, the wider development team at the Prescot factory in Merseyside were focused more on the domestic side, so that would have always got priority. Having that focus on water products gives the business greater clarity. The development can be focused in one specific area.”
Therefore the Burco water boiler production has now moved to Ireland, alongside fellow GDHV division brands. “We still manufacture in the British isles,” emphasises Usher. “The obvious place for Burco was with the rest of the water heating side.”
Asserting that the sales model remains the same, he reports: “Our customers have transferred over, so we are still sold through the same wholesalers and distributors we had previously. We have not lost any to my knowledge — they have supported us through the transition. They are incredibly important to us and we see that continuing going forward.”
He believes the new organisation brings a lot of benefits in terms of collaboration with sister brands such as Redring, which has boiling water taps and beverage water boilers in its own portfolio. “This is also quite exciting for our distributors and wholesalers because they are interested in selling some of our sister brands’ products.”
“Historically the Redring business has focused on the builders’ merchant side: that was its route to market. But potentially their products could be sold via larger dealers — there is a big opportunity to expand this range more.” This could also tie-in well with Burco’s mobile handwash basin product, the brand’s sole foray outside water boilers.
Burco’s main offices are now in Southampton, alongside other GDHV divisions. According to Usher: “The team there is excited as the catering sector is a whole new area for them, so there are some good opportunities there for reciprocal work.” The firm has also recently opened a London ‘flame studio’ for product demonstrations and meetings.
Making it as easy as possible for the user to maintain the unit means that it has less chance of breaking down”
Usher feels that the brand’s autofill water boiler and manual urn offering is currently in rude heath, with much business coming from summer fetes and festivals, then Christmas markets in winter.
“The growth over the last few years in coffee culture and more recently in speciality teas is really starting to open up a lot of new opportunities,” he says. “Whereas previously some smaller cafes might have just had a very simple product, they now need it to do a little bit more because they are starting to expand their repertoire.”
The rise in green tea consumption which is driving work to develop a new range of autofill boilers, as Usher explains: “We need to keep pace with what is happening out there. It’s about establishing Burco as the brand of choice within both the urns and autofill areas. “We want to major on the growth in speciality teas, so if those products are not served at the right water temperature it completely spoils the taste. The ideal temperature for a green tea is something like 75°C. Previously our boilers would have only gone down to 80°C, so the new range will be suitable for the more delicate teas.”
Underlining that in hard water areas of the country, all brands of water boiler need to be regularly descaled, he revealed that the new line is designed to be as simple as possible to descale. The tank can be accessed through a lift-up flap at the top where the descaler can be put in and left overnight.
“Making it as easy as possible for the user to maintain the unit means that it has less chance of breaking down and the operator can be more confident the product will be working all the time,” he points out.
Furthermore there will be slimline models within the new range to cater for ever decreasing counter space available. These will be slightly taller but will take up less surface space. The units will also take aesthetics into account, with the design aiming to visually fit in with a modern coffee shop ambience.
The new range will be launched this autumn. “This will be a massive step forward from Burco, taking us into parts of the market we haven’t been before, particularly chains,” Usher concludes.