Q&A: Parry’s MD Mark Banton looks to the future after restructuring

Mark Banton, managing director

Catering equipment manufacturer Parry Group secured the future of its business last week after agreeing a pre-pack transaction that saved 70 jobs. FEJ asked Mark Banton who will lead the newly-named Parry Catering Equipment (Midlands) Ltd — how the company intends to move forward from the challenges it has faced.

Will the new ownership change signal a change in strategy for Parry moving forward? Or is it more a case of ‘business as usual’ in terms of the strategic direction Parry will take?

We focus on the design and manufacture of stainless steel catering equipment and furniture, specialising in catering and clinical environments. Our reputation has been built on doing this well and it will continue to be our strategic direction.

The transaction has resulted in 70 jobs being saved. Is Parry confident that there is sufficient demand in the catering equipment market place to sustain such a sizeable workforce moving forward?

There is a healthy demand for the kind of quality products produced by Parry and we believe our staff are second to none in this sector.

When the restructuring was announced, you spoke of a ‘bright future’ for the business. What aspects of the business give you most confidence about the future?

The Parry name is synonymous with high standards, from design and workmanship through to reliability and flexibility. With these standards, we can look confidently forward to a bright future.

On the whole, our suppliers have been appreciative and supportive.

The former Parry business had a financially-crippling final salary pension system. How is that this burden has been lifted from the new company given that you are still employing the same number of staff?

All of the current staff have the opportunity to participate in a workplace pension scheme to which the company contributes.

Irrespective of the change in structure, there is a lot of scrutiny on British manufacturing post-Brexit at the current time. What challenges does a UK catering equipment manufacturer like Parry face that it didn’t have this time last year?

The Brexit issue has created a degree on uncertainty. It may mean the home market becomes stronger and we’ve already seen benefits from being ‘Made in Britain’. Exporting beyond Europe also opens new opportunities. In reality, there will probably be losses and gains but we’re well placed to meet the challenges.

Although creditors received more than they would have done had this outcome not occurred, it is inevitable that some might not wish to be exposed to Parry in future. How are you dealing with this challenge – are you in the process of trying to source new suppliers?

On the whole, our suppliers have been appreciative and supportive. By securing the future of the business, we are also able to continue to work with our partners and further strengthen relationships.

What are Parry’s main objectives for the catering equipment market in 2017?

In 2017, we will continue to maintain our high standards of products and service and listen to our customers so we can develop as required to meet their needs.

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