Lockhart Catering Equipment is promising to dedicate more time and resources to its core suppliers courtesy of a new partner programme it has created, Foodservice Equipment Journal can reveal.
The company will use its Strategic Supplier Partner Programme to drive closer links with its top suppliers and ensure sales staff are fully versed on their products. The initiative will be overseen by Richard Smith, Lockhart’s head of brands.
Lockhart has doubled its own label — or ‘exclusive’ — brands in the past year, allowing it to capture market share in the volume tableware and light duty catering equipment market. But it has gone to great lengths to keep third party suppliers in the loop and stress that the exclusive lines are part of an overall product enhancement strategy rather than a direct replacement for branded business.
Paul Nieduszynski, managing director of Lockhart Catering Equipment, explained: “We are doing own-brands and there are certain reasons for that, but we really do respect the fact that we have got a fantastic portfolio of branded suppliers that bring a huge amount of differentiation and innovation to the market. The combination of the two brings something unique to the market and ensures that our customers can get all that style and inspiration, but also affordability.”
Nieduszynski said the partner programme “reaffirms our commitment” to its key catering equipment suppliers. Members of the scheme will receive enhanced access to Lockhart’s senior sales team, commitments in terms of frequency of meetings, detailed insight to customer developments and greater dialogue than they might typically expect now.
Lockhart hosted 38 manufacturers at its annual supplier event in Manchester last week, but deals with more than 450 suppliers overall. A “focus group” of 13 suppliers has been inducted onto the Strategic Supplier Partner Programme so far.
Nieduszynski is confident that the programme will lead to it strengthening ties with its key partners and creating more mutual training and marketing opportunities.
“We think we are being very careful about the balance between supporting our branded suppliers and driving our exclusive brands programme,” he added. “Both are absolutely critically important to us and we are spending a lot of time talking to our suppliers about that plan. We really want to support our supporters, who are bringing lots of innovation, differentiation, and lots of colour and style and shapes to the market. If you look at those suppliers who supported us at the Manchester exhibition, we are in significant growth with those — double what we are achieving as a business overall.”