FEJ AWARDS PARTNER INTERVIEW: Ceda flies the flag for kitchen design, installation and service

With a membership base featuring the most experienced and proficient kitchen providers in the UK, trade association Ceda has taken some massive steps to ensure its partners are the go-to source for operators that require a solution to any design, project or equipment challenge they face, as director general, Adam Mason, explains.

Ceda has gone through some extensive branding and development activities in the past 12-18 months. What would you say have been the most significant or defining changes?

The process we have gone through has been robust and comprehensive and we are very pleased with the results. It has given our industry an identity and enhanced its culture internally. The challenge now is to continue developing but importantly to communicate this to the wider catering, foodservice and hospitality industries – making everyone involved in the industries aware of who Ceda is, what Ceda does and the benefits and advantages of working with a Ceda member. This is phase two and will be very apparent and very prevalent this year and ongoing. 

Your members specialise in kitchen design, projects, supply and service. Do the majority do a bit of everything or do you see a clear distinction in terms of what members regard as their ‘core expertise’.

I think the biggest challenge we were faced with during the rebrand process was to find terminology that succinctly defined our members because of the very varied nature of their businesses. Each company may have started out as one thing but may have diversified due to the evolving nature of the industry to adapt and become specialists in a number of areas. So, what was originally a service and installation company is likely to now be involved in equipment sales as well. Similarly, a company that only supplied equipment may now design and project manage installations. The evolution of the industry has dictated this. Members’ businesses revolve around equipment – whether that is designing, installing, supplying, specifying, servicing or maintaining – but they have so many other areas of specialism and expertise.

What can operators expect from working with a Ceda member – is there a code of practice or set of standards that makes choosing a Ceda partner a sensible decision?

There is currently in place both a Code of Practice and a Customer Charter but we have highlighted that they need to go further, be more stringent, more tangible and provide greater accountability and responsibility. They are currently under review and we are developing a brand new Code of Practice that focuses on things like sustainability, equality and diversity, health and safety, the environment, in addition to operational performance – these are all key areas that require focus as an Industry and will be included in order to set minimum required standards. The document will ensure members are being credible, being responsible and being moral – with a working title of ‘Being Ceda’. Our own DNA code that sets members apart and has a real and positive point of difference. We believe our members are the best of our Industry and we need to tangibly demonstrate that. This will of course have real benefits for operators.

Members’ businesses revolve around equipment but they have so many other areas of specialism and expertise”

You have also launched a new website. Are there any specific benefits on there that you would wish to direct operators to?

The new website is cleaner, easier to navigate and has a more customer-focused feel than previously. The ‘Ask a Specialist’ area gives operators the opportunity to find a member offering the services they require, in the right sector and the right geographical location. ‘The Gallery’ provides the opportunity to see some of the great projects that members have delivered. And finally the ‘News’ section gives the industry the opportunity to keep up to date with what Ceda are doing – much of which affects operators too. The homepage asks the question – ‘How do you want to connect?’ and since launch we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the number of operators that have.

Many of your members are responsible for some of the best commercial kitchen designs in the UK. Are there any clear trends that you see shaping their work?

Every design is unique and different by nature but some prevalent, common themes include achieving greater operational performance out of smaller footprints and there is still a growing requirement for open or theatre kitchens. Greater flexibility, efficiency and connectivity are all developing themes and it is, as ever, the marriage of; operator requirements, form and function that govern the end result. Marriage of thought is also key in the further design of servery area and front-of-house too – linking all 3 spaces together aesthetically and operationally to deliver an experience to the ever-discerning customer.

You have a heavy presence at the forthcoming Commercial Kitchen show. What would be your message to any operators that might wish to stop by your stand?

We’ve been big supporters of the show since its’ inception and once again are happy to be lead partners. Our presence involves a large lounge stand space, a design gallery depicting our shortlisted awards projects and significant input into the seminar programme. I’d encourage everyone in the Industry to come on to the stand and talk to us if they need knowledge, information or solution to any design, project or equipment issue they may have. Or more generally to learn about Ceda, our members, partners and the outstanding work that they do.

It’s been a busy period for Ceda – what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2018 when it comes to where your strategic objectives lie?

We have our medium-term development plan – Ceda 2022 – in place, that defines the majority of our strategy and activity. This is governed by two key objectives: achieve a level of recognition in the industry that every stakeholder in commercial kitchen design and procurement insists that it uses a Ceda member company, and connecting our industry. The first involves raising standards in all areas of business to ensure that our members remain at the forefront of professionalism, best practice, innovation and creativity and continue to deliver excellence. The second is how we engage and connect with the wider industry, the entire supply chain, so we better understand them and their challenges and they, in turn, better understand the benefits of working with a Ceda member. We have major pieces of work that are on-going. These focus on education and training, the image of our industry and the sustainability of our industry.

Ceda is sponsoring the Operator of the Year for Innovative Kitchen Design category at the 2018 FEJ Awards. Find out more at www.ceda.co.uk or follow @CEDAUK

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