EDITOR’S VIEW: Can flexible financing stimulate kitchen equipment spend?

It’s only natural for suppliers to examine ways of stimulating sales activity when they fear customers might be spending less.

Aside from the obvious steps of dropping prices or offering promotions — both of which invariably harm gross margins — one solution is to make purchases more attainable.

While operators will lament the fact that fitting out new kitchens has become more expensive in the past two years as the UK supply chain — much of which relies on European and American imports — has struggled with Brexit-induced price hikes, the good news is that those prepared to shop around will discover that getting their hands on what they want doesn’t always have to command a huge initial outlay.

There is certainly evidence of suppliers offering increased flexibility when it comes to catering equipment financing.

Nisbets rolled out an annual 0% finance offer on Polar and Thor equipment last year in a bid to make capital equipment acquisitions more affordable for customers, and it’s just extended that to more than 20 other brands that it supplies.

Its motivation is clear: a more appealing finance package gives customers the opportunity to purchase a broader range of equipment quickly and efficiently, without the worry of finding the funds upfront.

Nisbets certainly isn’t the first supplier to offer such an arrangement — others have been doing it for years — but it recognises that when kitchen equipment needs replacing, it tends to need replacing quickly, and often operators don’t have access to an immediate contingency fund.

Welbilt, meanwhile, has just made it possible for operators to pay for annual service contracts via direct debit monthly instalments.

Service contracts always pay for themselves in the long run, but its move acknowledges that paying upfront can deter smaller customers or those with limited cash flow from getting the full benefit.

As the focus on top-line growth intensifies, flexible financing could be a supplier’s best friend.

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