With the UK catering equipment market estimated to be growing by around 3.5% as it recovers from the economic downturn, new research from Electrolux reveals that purchasers and specifiers are looking to invest in replacement equipment to capitalise on the growing number of people choosing to dine out. FEJ examines how the data stacks up.
It is generally accepted across the industry that throughout economic downturns and periods of reduced consumer expenditure, purchasers and operators take the inevitable decision to defer the replacement of equipment. But with conditions improving, many are now beginning to re-examine budgets and equipment requirements with increased confidence.
Foodservice manufacturer Electrolux has been able to shed some light on the trends behind this development after carrying out extensive research to build an accurate picture of the factors driving the catering equipment replacement market in 2015.
With the value of the food and drink sector also continuing to soar, the brand aimed to evaluate the buying considerations of a variety of chefs and operators with the power to purchase — ultimately with the aim of getting closer to their ever-evolving needs from a kitchen equipment perspective. The white paper highlights the ongoing importance of after-care support in the foodservice replacement market and identifies the most common concerns facing the industry today.
Reasons for replacement
Of the 300 chefs and operators that Electrolux surveyed, over two thirds had replaced a piece of equipment in the last 12 months. While this undoubtedly stresses the importance of the replacement market for manufacturers and distributors alike, what is also useful to know is the range of reasons why operators choose to replace old with new.
“39% of those surveyed cited complete breakdown as their primary reason for replacements, with an additional third citing the need for regular repairs as their main prompt,” reveals Electrolux’s regional training and development manager, Stuart Flint, who shared the findings with FEJ.
Just over a tenth of those we surveyed cited substandard performance as the main influence on their decision to replace equipment”
“This kind of distress purchasing means chefs and stakeholders would be well-advised to keep abreast of the latest innovations and associated support manufacturers can offer. Being in a position to make an informed decision can prove invaluable, and this is one of the main reasons why we’ve taken the decision to host an extensive programme of workshops, seminars, and training courses at our Center of Excellence. These ultimately allow our existing or potential customers to make themselves aware of how we can offer support should they ever be in a position where they need to invest in new equipment at short notice.”
Interestingly, just over a tenth of those that Electrolux surveyed cited substandard performance as the main influence on their decision to replace equipment. Combining this with the additional 10% who admitted to replacing equipment because of newer and more effective models being available gives an idea of just how much work can be done to promote the benefits of proactively overhauling the workhorses of the kitchen, rather than waiting for a breakdown.
“Some of the latest models can have a hugely favourable impact on menu development, reduce overhead costs and streamline processes while maximising energy efficiency at the same time,” says Flint. “These are all benefits that buyers, specifiers and chefs themselves should consider at all times and not just when their equipment is on the brink of breakdown.”
It is important for the market to have a firm grasp of the reasons behind the decision to replace, however a concern for the industry is the fact that 43% of chefs told Electrolux that the wait for service or delivery of kitchen equipment has had a damaging effect on their business.
Says Flint: “It’s natural that downtime on any key piece of equipment will cause inconvenience, but this needs to be acted upon quickly, especially when we consider the latest kitchen innovations — where increased versatility is putting more pressure on single pieces of equipment to take on the bulk of production.
“At Electrolux, we have a dedicated customer care function as, in the unfortunate circumstance of a breakdown, we believe we have a responsibility to deliver a speedy recovery service to increase equipment uptime and reduce any potential impact on the business in question. We endeavour to deliver a first-time fix service to avoid downtime on crucial pieces of equipment, as well as fostering relationships with chefs across the industry, which involves high levels of communication from both sides to ensure potential issues are avoided or resolved as promptly as possible.”
Selecting new equipment
Electrolux’s research found that at the point of purchase, product performance reigns as the most important factor for an overwhelming majority of two thirds of those surveyed.
While this may not be all too surprising, the figure emphasises just how important quality of food is to those responsible for its delivery.
Just 15% labelled price as their main priority at the point of purchase, which suggests that although there is a balance to be found between price point and quality, it is the performance of the equipment that will always have the strongest bearing on the final decision.
Manufacturers have to take responsibility for ensuring their customers are able to benefit from a product which meets their every need, rather than being bought merely because it is regarded as a leading model”
“Training is also increasing in importance amongst chefs, with 76% of those we asked saying they would consider attending a training course or demonstration to help them to make the most of the full functionality of their equipment,” comments Flint.
“As manufacturers across the board strive to add innovative new features to their product ranges, training plays a key role in empowering chefs to maximise the labour and time-saving aspects of the latest generation of products. It is at this point that manufacturers have to take responsibility for ensuring their customers are able to benefit from a product or suite of products which meets their every need, rather than being bought merely because it is seen as a ‘leading model’.
Flint says the insight that Electrolux has gained into the replacement market will allow it to develop its support network and help its national distributor network involved in specifying bespoke solutions for individual kitchens and multi-site operators alike.
“By understanding buying behaviour when it comes to replacements, we hope to play our part in aiding menu development and enhancing operational efficiency as we help our customers to capitalise on what is an exciting period of growth for the food and drink sector,” concludes Flint.
The most commonly replaced equipment over the last 12 months
1) Cooking suite
2) Light catering equipment/
For its research into the catering equipment market, Electrolux surveyed almost 300 chefs and operators. Here is a summary of what it found:
• 67% had replaced a piece of equipment within the last 12 months, of which 39% cited complete breakdown as the reason for replacements.
• 36% cited equipment requiring regular repairs as the reason for replacements.
• 13% cited substandard performance as the reason for investment.
• 10% cited newer and more effective models being available as the main reason for new investments.
• 20% replace equipment that has an impact on the operation of their kitchen every 6-12 months.
• 33% replace equipment that has an impact on the operation of their kitchen every 1-2 years.
• 11% replace equipment that has an impact on the operation of their kitchen every 5+ years.
• 43% state that the wait for service or delivery of equipment has had a damaging effect on their business.
• 66% of chefs prioritise product performance at the point of investment.
• 15% prioritise price at the point of investment.
• 76% would consider attending a training course or demonstration to help them to make the most of the full functionality of their equipment.