Suppliers scramble to convert Hotelympia enquiries into new business

Rational stand, Hotelympia

Hotelympia draws to a close at the ExCeL in London today, leaving suppliers to return home with the task of qualifying leads and turning interest from prospective buyers into concrete orders.

While the final day of any major exhibition usually sees the level of visitor activity tail off, exhibitors generally seem pleased with the number of customers that have passed through their stands this week.

David Riley, managing director – warewash at Hobart, said the event had been a valuable one for the company given the investment it continues to make into the distributor market.

“I think the show has gone very well this year – Tuesday was a particularly busy day for us,” he said. “We are shifting more to a dealer focus, so it is great that we have seen so many of the dealers come onto the stand and react positively, especially as we try and promote service through the dealers as well. That has been a great innovation for us and the reception that we have got from dealers to work closely with us, harmonising with service, has been fantastic. Overall I’m very pleased with the turnout and the key dealers that we want to see and we want to grow our business with.”

Gareth Newton, managing director of BGL Rieber, praised the new-look structure of the show and said his company was delighted with the customers it has met this week.

“The new format works well – good lay-out, good flow, good footfall, it’s exactly what you want. It always quietens off a little bit in the evenings, but that’s the nature of all shows and it’s the same for everybody. But from 10.30am until 3.30-4pm, we have been busy. We have seen a lot of people – good customers, good potential.”

For Newton, the emphasis has been on generating new enquiries and leads, and engaging with existing customers. “The show has given us the chance to talk through the products, discuss what is going on in the industry and understand the kind of projects that customers are working on and the solutions that we can offer to the problems they have,” he said.

Across the hall at the Metcalfe Catering Equipment stand, managing director Neil Richards reported a solid flow of customers impressed by the wide range of food prep equipment it offers. “Although we are a dealer-led business it is important for us to get these products in front of end-users and this is just an ideal situation for us to be able to do that. We have seen a really good quality of people coming through –local authorities, chains, individual restaurateurs and hoteliers, which has been great.”

Richards added that distributors are reporting increased levels of demand, but said operators are still taking their time to give purchasing decisions the green light. “There is an awful lot of business being quoted for and I think people are willing to spend the money, but they are looking to get it right. They don’t want to spend it twice.”

At the Valentine stand, meanwhile, the company has been showcasing a range of products, including new filtration systems for its fryers, new salamanders and a wider range of induction equipment.

Bob Witherall, managing director of Valentine and its sister company Cuisinequip, said: “The footfall is not fantastic, but it is the right kind of footfall. It is the people you really want to see because of their job titles, where they come from and the chain of restaurants they own. The show has also been important for us to meet new agents and existing agents that have always bought equipment from us but don’t know of our full range of Cuisinequip products. People have been very interested in the induction, so that has been brilliant.”

Valentine’s stand is located on the lower floor of the venue, where visitors enter the exhibition. The success of the split-level set-up has drawn mixed opinion, with some exhibitors noting that the Rational and Staff Canteen areas remain packed throughout the day, ensuring plenty of traffic filters through, but others complaining that the upper level of the show is busier and that once visitors have moved upstairs they tend to remain there rather than returning to the lower floor.

“I am not sure it’s ever a good idea to split a show up, whether it be in the north hall or south hall or downstairs-upstairs, I think it makes more sense to have it all one level,” said Metcalfe’s Richards. “With regards to it being down the east side or the west side of the venue, I don’t have any preferences, but I just think it would be better for everyone to be on one level in one hall.”

Organisers have done an impressive job of attracting buyers from across a wide a range of hospitality businesses, and a wide range of geographies. “We have had hotels, care homes, distributors – and they have come from all over the place,” said Graham Crisp, sales director at Instanta. “It’s not just the UK; we have had visitors from Chinese and Europe as well. We have been really busy over the last few days. We have introduced our new push button range and showcased the slimline range we first introduced in October, and the feedback on those has been really good.”

The final day of Hotelympia opens at 10am and runs until 4.30pm this afternoon.

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