Andrew Nisbet yesterday paid tribute to the “biggest building project” the Nisbets Group has ever been involved in as the National Catering Equipment Centre officially opened its doors in Avonmouth, Bristol.
Glenn Roberts, chair of trade association CESA, had the honour of cutting the ribbon to mark the launch of the facility, with representatives from more than 40 suppliers travelling to the south-west for the event.
Mr Nisbet, who is chairman of the group, singled out praise for those who have played their part in getting the facility off the ground as he admitted that the concept had evolved throughout the build process.
“What we wanted to create here was an open exhibition space for our own brands but for our suppliers’ brands also and make a proper resource, not just for our own customers but also for the catering industry as a whole,” he explained.
“Anyone can visit here and use the facilities as they want. I wish I could say there was a grand vision at the start but there wasn’t actually; it is an idea that developed over the two to three-year design and build project, but finally we are here and we are delighted with the result.”
Mr Nisbet also used his speech to express his gratitude to suppliers for backing the project. “I have to say it was an immediate sell-out, all of our key suppliers participated, so thank you to all of them. It has been a big and complicated project, the biggest building project that we’ve designed, and it was completed very effectively. We asked the architects for a statement building and we have certainly been given one.
Mr Nisbet said it was an “exciting time” for Nisbets, with the launch of the NCEC coinciding with the recent appointment of Klaus Goeldenbot as its chief executive to take the group “through to a new era”.
The NCEC spans some 20,000 square metres of space that has been converted from a huge, existing Nisbets warehouse. It contains exhibition stands occupied by 43 separate brands, a Nisbets retail concession, demo facilities, a development kitchen and office space.
Richard Ebbs, head of brands at Uropa Brands, who will be based on site, said: “We have got a number of own brands and a number of partner brands that we work with and we recognise that these are going to be a very important part of our growth. We wanted somewhere where we could really showcase those brands and have a permanent exhibition for them, and that really didn’t exist anywhere else.”
There are currently 43 brands showcased in the exhibition area. Suppliers can dress their stands as they see fit, but the shape, size and height of the stands remains equal to ensure no single stand is favoured over another.
The stands deliberately contain no pricing details in order to allow dealers or suppliers to show customers around without fear that they are going to have to try and price-match someone else’s product prices.
Suppliers pay an annual fee to secure the space, Mr Ebbs said. He declined to reveal the cost of this but claimed it was a “fraction” of a typical exhibition stand cost.
“The first company we showed it to was Blue Seal and they actually came across from Australia to have a look at the concept and said ‘yes’ before they even heard the price. And then when they saw the price they said ‘that’s nothing’. We know what other organisations charge for space and certainly for an exhibition that is basically 364 days long it is cheap.”
Mr Ebbs said it currently had a waiting list of nine to 10 suppliers keen to get space in the NCEC when it becomes available.
Meanwhile, the facility will be used for menu development, and training and cooking competitions, while CESA has committed to running its next CFSP seminar at the site.