The UK catering equipment sector deserves the same government support as the general hospitality industry after suffering a “catastrophic” collapse in sales as a result of Covid-19.
That was the message from trade bodies FEA and Ceda this morning as they joined forces to issue a plea to Boris Johnson for assistance.
In a joint letter to the prime minister, the organisations point out that the equipment supply industry has suffered a “catastrophic” decline in sales of 90% and 100% because of the Covid-19 crisis.
The letter, signed by Keith Warren, chief executive of FEA and Adam Mason, director general of Ceda, says: “It is critical that there is total alignment between our sector and the hospitality operator sector. This should include equipment manufacturers, distributors and importers, designers, dealers, service and spare parts companies. Only by doing this will there be the infrastructure, skills, and services to support current needs and support the regeneration of the industry when that time comes.”
The associations are seeking an extension to the furlough scheme for the foodservice equipment supply chain, in line with any parallel development for hospitality industry operators, and immediate alignment with business rate support as an eligible group.
Many foodservice equipment supply companies are facing even greater financial pressure because their customers are withholding payment of debts – sometimes demanding nine months credit.
FEA and Ceda are calling on the government to address this. They say: “It is totally unacceptable if these businesses are receiving government support. It should be conditional to foodservice operators receiving furlough or business rate support that suppliers are paid to terms.”
The letter offers other suggestions as to how the foodservice equipment industry, and the hospitality sector as a whole, can be supported through the crisis.
As FEA and Ceda point out, without a functioning foodservice equipment supply chain, the hospitality industry will suffer now and any recovery will take much longer.
“Time is of the essence” they say, “Only with [this support] can our sector assist with the delivery of the equipment and services required to support the country through this crisis. It will also ensure that there will be viable companies with the vital skills and services that are essential to support recovery as quickly as possible.”
FEA’s patron, Lord Trefgarne, is personally sending copies of the letter to senior cabinet ministers including the Chancellor and Rt Hon Michael Gove MP.