LIVE NEWS FEED: Updates from the Heavy Equipment Forum 2016

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The second day of the CESA Heavy Equipment Forum gets underway at Whittlebury Hall Hotel in Northamptonshire today in conjunction with Cedabond. Today sees members of the trade meeting with more than a dozen leading suppliers and FEJ and sister publication Catering Insight are joining them on the journey.

Refresh this feed throughout the day for more updates.

09.00: First up is Grande Cuisine, importer of Adventys, Athanor and Capic, three premium French cooking brands. Graham Russell and Dan Loria will be talking sales partners through what the offering entails.

Russell says that Capic has just opened a new factory in France, boosting its capacity. The new 50,000 square metre building is used to produce high-end cooking suites that are imported to more than 80 countries. 145 people are employed at the plant.

New for Capic is Ecoflam technology, an innovative system that means the gas flame automatically turns off when the pan is removed from the hob. Chefs love turning the gas on when they come into a kitchen but it’s notorious for burning up energy. Using the Ecoflam, operators can save 30% in energy costs compared to leaving the flame on all day, says Russell.

Three Capic suites have just gone into Gleneagles including one in the club house with induction, fryers and planchas, reveals Russell. It runs a huge catering operation these days, he says.

Loria says the Adventys range starts from a £300 induction hob, moving through to the midrange but heavy duty 6kW units, and then all the way up to heavy duty modules which are available in two and four zones. A top-end 24kw four zone unit would cost £7,195. This means the company can cater for everybody, says Loria, who gives a demo of the appliance.

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The restaurant market is still driving induction sales, but Russell says the company has just put six induction units into a Darlington college. Clear demand from the education market, then, who are seeing the obvious benefits of using induction technology that is 95% efficient.

Induction buffet systems are a “boom” area, too, says Loria. Customers want one counter and work surface with all the induction buffets connected underneath. This means induction chafing dishes can go straight onto the stove. It also creates a safe and wipeable work surface, so it’s proving to be a popular system.

Loria moves onto Athanor, the cooking suite brand, which he says has offers some of the most efficient kit around. He has just done an energy study for a London restaurant and, compared with the current suite it uses (not an Athanor!) he has worked out that it would save it over £42 in gas and electric! if it switched to Athanor kit. “There is huge payback on the range,” he says, “which is equivalent to more than £15,000 a year.” The saving comes from the appliance being more efficient and because the emphasis is on electric, not gas.

09.30: It’s onto Rational now, the company that proudly claims to hold more than 50% of the UK combi oven market.

Darren Hollis, regional development chef for the central region and Mike Williams, sales director for the south west, kick off proceedings by playing a video that takes partners through its flagship SelfcookingCentre, which is now available as a compact model called the ‘XS’.

“It is something we have taken a long time to bring to the market,” says Williams about the product, which was officially launched on 1 September. “But it’s giving us the opportunity to talk to customers that we wouldn’t ordinarily have spoken to. It’s opening up new sectors of the market for us.”

XS is 60% smaller than Rational’s popular 6 grid oven, he says. The oven contains all of the features associated with its bigger models, while the use of a boiler system, rather than spritzer system, eliminates limescale and keeps the cavity clean.

Rational has moved from halogen to LED on the new models, which provides greater visibility for users operating the machine – “it really is the difference between night and day”, says Williams.

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He says customers are becoming far more energy savvy. He was with a hotel customer this week who has moved to a scenario where energy consumption is going straight on the chef’s gross profit. This, unsurprisingly, means the kitchen is far more aware of the need to turn off what they aren’t using!

Asked what the stand-out feature of the XS is, Williams says it is the fact that the oven has the same functionality of the other units but takes up a fraction of the footprint. “That’s the key point,” he says. Rational has also launched a whole series of acessories to support the customers.

Biggest sales of the XS since launch have predictably come from Germany, Rational’s home market, but Williams says reception in the UK has been fantastic now that it has got the concept right and ensured that boiler technology is fully incorporated. Petrol stations, supermarkets, bakeries are all customer bases that could easily have a use for it, he says.

Rational hasn’t hired any new staff to sell the XS – instead the existing team of 23 regional sales reps will be adding it to their portfolio and are tasked with growing new market sectors.

10.00: It’s onto Gram now, which these days operates alonsgide sister company Hoshizaki. The session is being taken by commercial director Paul Anderson, regional sales manager Owen Dolan and account manager Justin Adams.

Hoshizaki celebrates its 70th anniversary next year, so 2017 will be a big year for the firm. Gram and Hoshizaki’s UK division continues to grow, with the division accounting for around 20% of its European turnover. “Potential is vast for ice machines and even bigger for refrigeration,” says Anderson about the combined company’s future prospects.

There is a big focus on the IM range at the event from a Hoshizaki point of view. It produces high quality ice, and is safe and hygienic in the way it is stored. “It is all manufactured at our production facility in Telford,” says Adams.

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The company is also spreading the message about its five-year Gram warranty – Anderson says there are still customers that aren’t aware of it and so it’s important for the company to promote the benefits of it.

There is the possibility of new products being added to the Gram in the future, with announcements likely in the New Year. But for this event the focus on the Compact range – partners who haven’t seen the equipment before are encouraged to ‘feel the fridge’.

Gram reveals that it is now part of the CESABIM database, the free BIM library for foodservice equipment. It means designers can place Gram BIM blocks into designs. “It is compatible with every other system and is easily accessible from our website,” says Anderson.

10.30: Midway through the morning and it’s now onto Charvet, with Gary Allen and Ian Clow. Partners get to see a three-minute video on the company’s impressive production facility in France, where all its high-end cooking suites are produced.

The emphasis on craftmanship and handmade production really comes across in the video – it’s undoubtedly a great marketing tool for showing what Charvet stands for.

The company is showcasing its Charvet One suite, which provides a modular offering alonsgide what it has traditionally provided from a bespoke perspective.

Allen shares some insight into customers that have recently deployed Charvet suites. They include Piquets, Rewley House, The Grain Store and Burger UK, a specialist burger restaurant in the UK. The Royal London Hotel has just taken four suites for its main kitchen and banqueting facilities.

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The Charvet One is proving popular with a lot of chef-owned establishments, says Allen. Many of these chefs have worked with Charvet in the past and, as they come to open their own restaurant, they regard the range as an affordable option due to its lower pricepoint.

Kitchens are becoming more ’boutiquey’ adds Clow, and this is leading chefs to choose suites in non-traditional stainless steel colour. Blues, blacks and ‘trafic rouge’ are the most popular. One hotel even opted for a ‘plum’ tone.

He adds that being at the Heavy Equipment Forum gives Charvet the chance to educate trade customers on its equipment and show that, in the Charvet One, it now has an affordable offering for dealers to work with. “We are relatively new to Cedabond and this gives us an opportunity to meet the dealers face-to-face. We don’t want dealers to be afraid of mentioning ‘Charvet’ in their meetings and give them the confidence to sell the brand,” explains Clow.

11.00: Time for some induction chat with Induced Energy now. The British manufacturer, whose plant isn’t too far from here in Northamptonshire, has brought with it a whole selection of induction hobs for partners to see up close.

Sales manager, Nic Banner, says the company is Britain’s only commercial induction hob manufacturer. It has been around since 1992. “We only manufacture induction hobs and keep-hot units,” says Banner, adding that it makes the brand a real specialist in its sector.

The “super efficient” nature of its technology means that it is 86% more efficient than gas, claims Banner, while using induction delivers controllability and precision. “You can’t get more ‘controllable’ than induction,” he says. “We have 99 different settings – with gas you have ‘on’ and ‘off’ and perhaps ‘low, medium and high’, so there are five at the most. The argument that gas is more controllable than induction is rubbish.”

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The Invisible Cooking Station is proving to be a big seller for Induced Energy. It is now available with extraction so that steam can be taken away, enhancing its attractiveness as a front-of-house application. Banner also talks through the iPlate keep-hot unit, which is used particularly heavily in B&I directors’ dining rooms.

One of Induced Energy’s newest products is a skillet heater, which was originally developed for the Spirit Pub Company before it was bought by Greene King. It can get the skillet to 270 degrees in 90 seconds so that it stays hot for 90 seconds, giving the chef 30 seconds to prepare it and a minute for waiting staff to get it to the table.

11.30: Next up is Precision Refrigeration. Regional sales manager, Kandie Harrison, explains that the company was founded in 1968 but current owner Nick Williams acquired the business in 2008.

In 2012 the company took the decision to open a factory in China to serve the Chinese, South East Asian and Australian markets.

International expansion has followed and last year it moved into the Middle East with the appointment of a local sales manager.

The UK division is still seeing very strong growth, though. In fact it is growing 25% year-on-year, according to Harrison, who brings up a slide showing that it is well on its way to achieving sales of £7m a year from the UK.

Coverage in the north has improved since the manufacturer started working with Pro Foodservice Reps (PFR), who are represented in the session by Andy Piggin.

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Harrison says the “secret” to Precision’s success is based on four key pillars: the best possible product at the best possible price; flexibility; excellent customer service; and its partnership with dealers.

Precision has been expanding its product range. There are now 16,000 potential product configurations within its price list, Harrison reveals. Doors can be swapped out for drawers, while the ‘boxing in’ of condensers means that some of its models are now idea for front-of-house locations.

Precision lists some of the big end-users that use its refrigeration and it’s a who’s who of the chain world. Brasserie Blanc, Jamie’s Italian, Giraffe, TGI Fridays, Bill’s and Hilton are among some of the names mentioned. A video shows Franco Manca’s Nabil Mankarious discussing how it has worked with Precision to solve some of its refrigeration challenges.

12.00: We’ve hit the midday mark and it’s the team from Hobart Warewash that will be outlining their latest offering next.

They begun with a slide that screams ‘The innovation never stops’ and, according to sales director Tim Bender, the notion of innovation is at the very heart of Hobart’s ethos.

Bender talks through Hobart’s automatic soil removal technology, a nifty feature that can save up to £500 per annum in operational costs by eliminating the need for pre-rinsing. This feature is available on its Hobart Premax Hood machines and MD, David Riley, uses the demo machine that the company has brought with it to illustrate just how it works.

It is clear just how much the tech world has encorached on tasks such as washing dishes, which have been a part of the commercial kitchen forever: the Premax system contains a USB port and you can download the last 30 days of information about how the machine has functioned.

Premax can do an awful lot more than a normal machine, according to Bender, who says that Hobart offers extensive training for those that buy the equipment to ensure operators get the most from their purchase.

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Now we move onto Hobart’s new ‘Care’ machine. It’s so new that it is still in its wrapping – and tomorrow it’s being shipped up to the NACC Conference in Nottingham where it will be officially launched. The machine is aimed squarely at the care market.

Bender makes no secret of the fact that it is looking to take on Miele in this market. Its rival’s range of semi-domestic machines have been popular in the care sector, but Hobart is looking to make professional warewashing technology available to these operators.

The machine offers complete thermal disinfection and is priced at a level that will make it attractive to care home groups, but it’s the cycle speed that Hobart thinks will be the winner with operators, particularly those that haven’t been using commercial machines up to now.

12.30: It’s nearly lunch, but first there’s just enough time to hear from Craven & Co. Managing director, Angus Milne, and national sales manager, Neil Fox, as well as their colleague Leighanne who has just joined the customer service team, have been meeting with partners all morning.

“We think that there are three major reasons people should buy from us: one, we are cost-effective and competitve in price. Number two is quality, because deep down we are a manufacturing company rather than a sales-based company. And number three – and something that is less prevalent than we believe it will be in future – it is the right thing to do environmentally because we make it locally and we use less energy producing a shelf than we would do in somewhere like China,” says Fox.

Milne reels off some statistics that reveal a series of startling facts about the carbon emissions impact associated with importing catering shelving from China. A clear ‘green’ message from the Knaresborough-based guys.

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Craven is attending the Heavy Equipment Forum for the first time and using it as an opportunity to provide new product information to Cedabond members and guagae market conditions. “It’s a great way of getting customers together in one place,” says Fox. “Over the course of the day, we’ll probably see 100 indvidual customers from several different companies.”

One of the big issues for Craven is the spin-off from Brexit. “We are a UK manufacturer and we believe it is going to place us in a good position,” says Milne. “Although some materials are dollar traded we are not just importing products, so we think it will give us price advantage.”

The big focus for the company is making sure it remains as competitive as possible. New investments will be made in robotic machinary to drive down costs and increase efficiencies. Craven’s factory is certainly isn’t underworked – that’s for sure. It currently employs 40 staff and the machines run from 6am to 11pm, five days a week. It’s good to see a British manufacturer really flying the flag for UK production.

14.00: The afternoon session is up and running, and Distributor Supplies is introducing us to its offering. The company describes itself as specialising in ‘hospitality consumables’, which means it does everything apart from furniture and equipment, according to national sales manager Mike Lowry. The business is part of RG Group, which turns over £24m a year and is based in Durham.

The firm has brought plenty of product samples with it, including an impressive range of cookware, crockery and consumables. “We offer a ‘good, better, best scenario in all of our lines,” explains Lowry.

Sales manager Phil Matthews says that Distributor Supplies is trying to help dealer salespeople attending the event have the confidence to sell lighter duty goods and supplies.

David Turnnidge, business development manager at Churchill is also in the session – a lot of its products are sold through Distributor Supplies. “Chefs want to see inspirationl ideas,” says Turnnidge when discussing the visual nature of its sales literature.

Distributor Supplies recently started working with KitchenCraft, which has traditionally sold 90% through retail. But it also boasts a solid range of heavy duty products ideal for chefs and Distributor Supplies will be able to make its kit accessible to more than 400 distributors.

The KitchenCraft brochure even includes products aimed at the kids’ market, such as tomato sauce dispensers shaped like toy guns. “As one of the chains recently said to me, food has got to the stage where it is very similar – it is how you present it on the table that makes the difference now,” comments Lowry.

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Retail is helping drive foodservice trends, says Turnnidge, and colours are very important. Retail and foodservice are becoming more entwined, although one challenge is that tableware ranges from the retail sector can change quickly and consumers will adapt, whereas in foodservice restaurants can’t be expected to change all their tableware so frequently. This is why hospitality customers have typically been reluctant to jump on retail trends too quickly.

Greys, biscuity-colours and white with patterns are in vogue at the moment – many chefs are using white as a base colour and then adding splashes of colour to their collections, says Turnnidge.

Overall, says Lowry, there is as much money to be made back of house as there is front of house, with items such as cookware, bins, gloves and foil refills offering attractive repeat sales, too. That’s one of the key messages it has for distributors at the event.

14.30: The Heavy Equipment Forum has come at a good time for Middleby company IMC – it only became a Cedabond member a few weeks ago.

The WasteStation is one of IMC’s flagship products and the first on product manager Gary Barnabus’ agenda. It has been around for about four years but only now is it truly taking it off. One of the reasons for that is there are some clear drivers now – such as operators wanting to save money on collection charges.

If you put 100 litres of food waste into one end of the WasteStation, you’ll get 20 litres out of the other because most of it is turned into grey water.

The WasteStation CR is another element of the offering. It features a separate inlet station and remote dewatering, which makes life easier for kitchen porters and eliminates double handling. It’s aimed very much at large sites, such as shopping centres.

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Increased understanding of food wasteis being driven by two key factors: rising collection and landfill costs, which are going up weekly in some cases, and kitchen workers demanding assistance. “Food waste is a messy job and nobody wants to do it, so if you can make life easier for people they will inevitably sit up and take notice,” says Barnabus.

Moving onto the refrigeration side now, Barnabus highlights the company’s Ventus integrated bottle cooler line. He says the trend has been for low-cost, entry level bottle coolers, but Ventus was introduced to play at the opposite end of the spectrum. It is available in multiple configurations and exterior colours.

IMC has just relaunched its website – the menus are separated into ‘bar’, ‘waste’ and ‘preparation’, which encapsulates the company’s core areas.

Last but not least, says Barnabus, the company has launched mini compactors, which come in three different sizes, one of which includes a can crusher.

15.00: Time for a bit of warewashing now, with Maidaid. Its sales literature has the familiar face of England rugby team manager Richard Hill beaming out from it – the World Cup winner has just signed up as Maidaid’s brand ambassador.

Maidaid offers trade partners a comprehensive training day programme in the UK, so sales director Julian Lambert has been giving distributors a distilled version of what that entails throughout the day.

Did you know that it’s a legal requirement for dishwashing machines to have break tank? If you’re an operator you should do – and that’s one of the questions Lambert asks distributors to ensure they are giving customers the right advice.

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In terms of trends, one of the big things that Maidaid is seeing demand for is integral water softener machines. They have become incredibly popular, says Lambert, as the trade wants to sell systems they know have all the features built on.

The company has also been selling a lot of mini rack machines, which are like conveyor systems and serve as the next step up to the huge machines that are used by big leisure operators, for example.

Maidaid says that because it works with its factory on a Just In Time basis, it faces minimal stock issues. Even in August, when manufacturers traditionally run out of product because European factories shut down, it always has sufficient stock and can offer the reliability that operators need.

15.30: It’s onto Linda Lewis Kitchens now, which is celebrating 10 years in business this year and has just moved premises.

Andy Piggin, managing director of PFR, the company’s exclusive sole field sales representation in the UK, says that Linda Lewis has expanded from eight to 12 people in the past two years and added service, installation and repair capabilities.

Most significantly, LLK now has its own demo kitchen, which is the only venue to see Cuppone and LLK Living Flame and wood-fired ovens in the same place. The demo kitchen workshops that it offers involve full product training based around the needs of its customers.

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The products that LLK sells are of the best quality – only 0.3% of its turnover is from warranty calls, reveals Piggin, who adds that on that basis it carries very few spare parts because they are rarely needed.

Piggin introduces the ‘Franco Andiamo’ concept – a mobile pizza oven that distributor partners can loan to operator customers. The specially-designed oven heats up in 20 minutes and can cook up to six pizzas at a time. Perfect for beer gardens, festivals and garden centres.

PFR has been working with Linda Lewis Kitchens for 19 months, where its focus has been on supporting the dealer network. During that time, PFR has increased the size of its team from two to four to strengthen dealer support even further.

16.00: Next on the list is RH Hall, with Derek Poole, area manager for the south, and Tom Caine, area sales manager for the north and Scotland. They’ve got plenty of kit to shout about, including the Crown Verity BBQ range.

Poole says that the days of BBQs being nothing more than a summer sale are over. “We are selling them in the winter months now as operators see the value of outdoor dining.” Cooking temperature on a Crown Verity is reached in just six minutes and there are models to suit every situation and size of operation.

Is that a piece of Electrolux kit we can see? It certainly is – RH Hall is the exclusive UK distributor for the brand’s High Speed panini grill. The appliance is sat on a Simply Stainless tabling unit – the modular fabrication brand that RH Hall markets exclusively in the UK.

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Another focus for the company is the Smeg Alpha 140UK, which is only a few months old. It can hold gastronorm size trays on a 13 amp socket, so it offers bags of flexibility. “It’s something we have been asked for for a long time, so we’re pleased that we’ve now got it,” says Caine.

Last but not least, RH Hall is showcasing the latest Sharp commercial microwaves and a Maestrowave Combi 7, the latter of which is a combination oven that incorporates microwave technology and a grill so food can be cooked quickly without quality being compromised. Breads and pastries are ideal products for this appliance, with hotels, delicatessens and pub groups among the key users.

16.30: Onto Corsair now, which employs almost 40 people these days and is based out of Banbury.

Managing director, Arun Sahajpal, explains that the company now offers an integrated janitorial cupboard to keep kitchens tidy – it’s not exactly a technically intricate creation but there will be no shortage of kitchen managers crying out for one. He says that the combined bucket, sink and COSH cupboard, which features perforated areas so that fumes don’t build up, has been “really well-received” by the market.

The company has also found success with its FlexiKart, a mobile school servery that it describes as the ‘Virgin of the catering world’. Virgin came in and upset the applecart in the airline space and Corsair likes to think it has done in the same in this market, where traditionally there was only one recognised supplier. The product comes in a range of colours and has individual controls so that each plate can be switched off individually.

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Coming onto Corsair’s Vortex ventilation and extraction division, Sahajpal brings up the range of canopy solutions that it now offers. It’s fair to say they come in all shapes and sizes, reflecting the diverse buildings and places that kitchens are built in these days.

Corsair was involved in the second largest ever ventilation project in Europe: 120 canopies and 130 SDUs at Glasgow City College, which had an overall value in excess of £800,000.

Ventilation is a growing part of the business for Corsair, which the company attributes to its track record of providing customers with the correct solution and its understanding of the subject. There is no shortage of competition in the canopy manufacturing side, but years of experience set it apart. “Canopy manufacturers are like Indiain restuarants – there is probably one on every corner but it is about offering a complete solution,” says Sahajpal. “It is not just about bending the metal, it is delivering ducting, the right-sized fans to supply the air and everything else that goes into providing that solution.”

Now for the last session of the day – it’s Hobart again, but this time it’s the company’s Cooking Solutions division.

Simon Merrick, managing director of the unit, says the company’s offering can be split into three catgeories: vertical cooking; modular cooking and suites; and bulk (pans and kettles). “We have one of the widest portfolios of equipment in the market,” insists Merrick, who says the firm has spent considerable time cutting through its product offering and pricing structure to make it simple and attractive for distributor partners to sell to operators.

The company has embraced the ‘good, better, best’ philosophy championed by parent company ITW in order to demonstrate that it can provide a cooking solution for any user, regardless of size or budget. There have been numerous brands associated with Hobart’s cooking arm over the years, but it’s now clearly centred around Hobart, Bonnet, Maestro by Bonnet and Elro.

John Stewart, sales manager distribution at Hobart, talks us through the product range. Hobart has brought plenty of equipment to the event, so distributors have had a chance to see the equipment up close and get a real feel for how it might fit into a project.

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Decisions on heavy duty cooking equipment continue to be shaped by menu, budget, space, power input and customer expectation. There is a clear trend of people moving away from gas and increasingly towards induction, but that is reliant on how much power is going into the building and, of course, cost, points out Merrick.

It’s nearly time to call it a day, but before we do, the company highlights its Compact cooking solution, which provides a full cooking offering in a space that takes up just 2.4 metres in length. An emerging tapas chain, that has just opened a branch Leeds, is among the customers to have fully embraced the concept. We can feel a case study coming on!

And, finally, the last word goes its range of combi ovens. One new development here is that every model in the portfolio now comes with a condensor hood, which wasn’t the case before.

And that, for those still with us, is a wrap!

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