Leading kitchen houses and foodservice consultants descended on the QE2 Conference Centre in London recently for the biggest Falcon Foodservice Equipment product launch in its history. FEJ joined the pack to find out how one of the UK’s most established catering equipment manufacturers is planning to beat its European cooking suite rivals at their own game.
As a company whose history can be traced all the way back to 1819, managing director Tim Tindle is not exaggerating when he says that Falcon Foodservice Equipment has become a “bit of an institution” in the British catering world.
The company remains hugely proud of the fact that its stoves have powered commercial kitchens for the best part of two centuries, while its long association with the education and training sector means there are few chefs out there who haven’t encountered the brand on their way up through the ranks.
But times are changing at the Stirling-based manufacturer and, as the launch of its much-anticipated F900 range shows, it is relishing the challenge of straying outside its comfort zone.
This projects us into market niches which for too long have not been supported by a UK manufacturer. And so the consequential problems of overseas supply, currency fluctuation and parts availability are gone”
Billed as its most significant product launch since the Dominator Plus was unveiled four years ago, F900 has been three years in the making and offers the market a selection of heavy duty appliances that Falcon claims are the “perfect combination of form and function”.
“This is a major step forward for the company,” Tindle (pictured below) told FEJ at the launch. “What we have done is taken our best brand values and we can now really target into the front-of-house market and the market of the ‘design’ kitchen for the high-end restaurant. Equally, because of all the gas tops we do, and the fact that we have got global approvals, it really does make the F900 range a vehicle that we can export globally.”
It is not lost on Falcon that the higher end of the cooking suite market has been heavily dominated by continental European brands, which have impressed with sleek, aesthetically-pleasing designs and robust construction. But in wheeling out the F900, Falcon believes it now has the armoury to make a real fight of it.
Lawrence Hughes, sales director at Falcon, says: “The F900 has been designed to project Falcon into market niches where previously our product offering has maybe not been as strong or as focused as it could have been. Hotels and contract caterers, high-end restaurants, large high street retailers, stadiums and arenas — sectors which for too long have not been supported by a UK manufacturer. And so the consequential problems of overseas supply, currency fluctuation and parts availability are gone. It encompasses those values that you have come to expect from Falcon: it is practical, reliable and easy to maintain, service, install and suite. And it is designed with chefs, for chefs.”
So what does the range consist of? Essentially it’s the complete suite of modular gas and electric cooking appliances that any commercial kitchen would need: ranges, boiling tops, griddles, chargrills, fryers, pasta cookers, bratt pans, rise and fall grills and a range of induction. Each unit is 900mm deep, with widths ranging from 400mm to 1200mm depending on the individual product.
Hughes insists the firm has listened to what operators want when assembling the range, while development chef Neil Roseweir has been instrumental in the design process, personally testing and trialling every element of the product line in pursuit of perfection.
The result, says Hughes, is a cooking range ideal for modern, busy operators. “F900 is manufactured in 2mm Scotchbrite stainless steel, it is laser-cut to allow edge to edge joining, IPX5-rated for deep cleaning and has front access maintenance, which is important for ease of service. We understand that time is key when it comes to installing kitchens so we have developed a patent-pending ‘Dynamic Link System’. This will ensure that the F900 can be installed easier and faster than conventional linking methods.”
The range is also “priced to sell”, according to the firm. A four burner gas oven range has a list price of £3,750, a twin basket gas fryer with in-built filtration is £4,380 and a giant 1200mm chargrill costs £5,230. The most expensive item in the range is a four-zone induction boiling top, listed at £8,680.
Falcon is part of the AFE Group, which counts the likes of fellow British manufacturers Williams and Mono as allies. In turn, the group is owned by global catering equipment giant Ali Group. Tindle says that belonging to the Italy-based outfit has helped it grow outside the UK and add scale to the business.
“They have allowed us to invest in the future in new product development and unashamedly they have also helped us to become more profitable, which is important because it gives the Ali Group as our shareholder more reason to continue to back us in the future, and I can assure you that those plans are already made, laid and agreed,” he says.
“So, the future is bright — new investment, new products and new markets, allied with the solid brand values of Falcon: dependability, trustworthiness, honesty and value for money.”
The official launch of the F900 series completes a long and unforgettable journey for those inside Falcon who have been closely involved in its development. But it is merely the start of things to come, insists Tindle. “Be assured, there is a lot more in the pipeline. As we have shown over the past few years, we will keep adding to our portfolio.”
F900: Headline features
• Griddle plate completely surrounded by grease trough for ease of cleaning
• 3.5kW or 5kW heat zones, allowing all kitchens to discover the benefits of induction regardless of available
• 2mm thick laser cut hobs with invisible welding
• Cabinets can be closed, open or feature pressed runners
• Radiused corners for ease of cleaning, while front access simplifies maintenance
• Gas models suitable for natural, propane and butane gas supply
• Full width cooking area ensures maximum output
• Models with electrics are IPX5 water resistant-certified
• Sealed burner wells contain any spillages
• Edge to edge suiting with patent-pending Dynamic Link System