Golden Gram: MD Glenn Roberts talks product strategy

Gram product family

The launch of an energy efficient refrigeration range for the same price point as a previous flagship range is making Gram a serious choice for group purchasers and chain accounts. FEJ spoke to managing director Glenn Roberts about what the brand can bring to the table.

What’s on the agenda for Gram UK in 2015? Are you optimistic about what the year has in store?

Glenn Roberts.

Glenn Roberts.

2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Gram UK as we look to benefit from the upturn in economic confidence, buoyant international travel to the UK and a knock-on effect for the hospitality sector from the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

2014 saw the highest level of sales growth across the eating out market since the recession began, and with that optimism we see greater investment in quality capital equipment purchases. Our international business is also seeing very positive growth and we are excited to be kicking off the year with two key trade events both here in the UK and in Dubai, attending Hospitality and Gulfood.

What sort of trends do you expect to define the commercial refrigeration market in 2015?

2015 will see some big changes in the European refrigeration market as the EU Design Directive nears enforcement, concisely identifying Energy Ratings by model. This will become an increasingly ‘hot topic’ in 2015 for both manufacturers and operators as energy efficiency claims are objectively and independently benchmarked. Moreover, operators will have far greater clarity in the purchasing decisions they make, allowing them to gain greater transparency on the long-term ‘whole life’ running costs of their equipment investments.

With both the SUPERIORPLUS and ECOPLUS anticipated ‘A’ rating, Gram welcomes the new labeling and highlighting of the recommended running cost over and above the initial retail purchase. The initiative will allow greater confidence and again drive innovation in the market, working towards a more sustainable industry as a whole.

How do you view buying behavior in the refrigeration market at the moment? Are purchasers paying attention to running costs or is the capital cost still one of the most decisive factors?

We have seen quite a drastic shift in customers’ thought processes in terms of long-term investment. In the past, customers’ decisions were more focused on immediate budgetary concerns and much more on the current financial viability of an operation. But more and more we are seeing customers consider the bigger picture and weighing up the initial outlay for equipment against the life-cycle of equipment. Understanding the difference between cost of ownership versus cost of purchase will become even more relevant as utility costs continue to escalate in the coming years.

What would be your advice to buyers purchasing or specifying equipment for multiple sites? Are particular criteria they should be looking for to maximise their purchase?

Obviously when looking to supply multiple sites customers can capitalise on bulk purchasing discounts via their preferred distribution chain. However, a factor that should be considered more by buyers is that equipping multiple sites with energy efficient products will significantly reduce their overall annual running costs. Gram UK offers a full range of solutions catering for both front- and back-of-house applications. Also, offering a wide variety of capacities and sizes offers buyers a one stop shop for all their refrigeration needs.

Do you see buyers changing their KPIs when it comes to evaluating the refrigeration products and brands they buy? 

Gram works in a very consultative way with both its customers and distributors alike, helping to determine the best product to fit their operational needs. By no means should refrigeration be thought of as ‘one solution fits all’. Consideration should be given to individual site requirements and refrigeration operational needs across that site, taking into consideration volume, menu configuration, kitchen location, footprint, design functionality and without compromise on energy consumption.

Over the last year we have seen operators become more aware of energy measurement and value engineering, which may suggest why Gram UK’s sub-brand Snowflake has been so positively received. The range offers products to operators wanting to benefit from quality energy efficient refrigeration, but have a restricted budget.

What do you as a business and a brand offer to national operators and foodservice organisations with multiple outlets or estates?

It is and always has been our aim to provide the industry with energy efficient, innovative products that builds on the latest industry technology. Our product solutions always look to the long-term goal of reducing overall running costs as well as limiting businesses’ impact on the environment. Gram has many decades of experience in this field since the very inception of commercial refrigeration. Key to our success is listening to clients concerns, requests and needs to ensure our product development is always leading the way in innovation and providing a valued and efficient product.

Product and after-sales support is a crucial factor for operators making large scale investment in refrigeration equipment. What can you offer on this front?

Our industry knowledge reassures clients that we are providing the most suitable product for the job; we pride ourselves in customer service and believe that our products speak for themselves in terms of quality and innovation. Our warranty is also above the industry standard on our SUPERIORPLUS 72 range offering a five-year product guarantee.  Our warranties don’t come with any small print and our products do not require any.

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