Steve Loughton is looking forward to the challenge of integrating Gram and Hoshizaki’s UK businesses as the firm prepares to operate under the proposed new company name of ‘Hoshizaki UK’ from January.
The move will bring the two units together under a single corporate umbrella, which the manufacturer hopes will support its aspirations for market growth.
“What they have got in the UK at the moment is essentially two companies — Hoshizaki UK and Gram UK,” explained Loughton. “What Glenn [Roberts] has done this year is a fantastic job of pulling the customer-facing field sales teams together. The next stage of the process is to fully integrate the two entities, so that it will become Hoshizaki UK. But the Gram name will by no means disappear. It is an extremely strong and well-respected brand name and it will remain as a product brand name in the same way that Hoshizaki, which is also a strong, well-respected name, will remain as a brand name. This is a process being undertaken throughout all of Europe.”
Mr Loughton has more than 40 years’ experience in the foodservice industry and agreed that the profile and global structure of his new employer has similarities with Manitowoc, which he led for 10 years in the UK.
He said the process of uniting the Gram and Hoshizaki is very much a two-pronged affair. “What we have to do is integrate all of our back-office systems as well as the customer-facing areas so that what the customer gets is a seamless service that starts right at the factory and goes right through administration and then into the realisation of the product in his or her kitchen.”
Gram refrigeration products are manufactured in Denmark, while 90% of the ice machines that Hoshizaki sell across Europe are made in Telford. Loughton’s responsibilities don’t extend to looking after the UK factory but he is likely to be working closely with it.
He believes that having a UK manufacturing operation is a “big advantage” to the company in the UK and said that he is positive about what the future holds for the overall business.
“I think that the economy is strong at the moment but I think that some of the macro indicators are looking difficult possibly for the future; not just for our business but the economy as a whole. You look at US interest rates perhaps rising and personally I am still concerned about the [Brexit] process that we are going through. I think we are in for a very interesting couple of years but I think foodservice is buoyant at the moment and we need to capitalise on the strong position in which we find ourselves.”