Nisbets, the UK’s largest catering equipment supplier, is set to cut as many as 800 jobs in what represents one of the most devastating industry fallouts from the coronavirus crisis yet.
The cull represents around 40% of its 2,000 global workforce, although the UK and Ireland – where 1,500 staff are based – are likely to bear the brunt of the losses.
Nisbets began a 45-day consultation with affected employees yesterday as it outlined the most extensive restructuring programme in its history.
Prior to the crisis, Nisbets was generating sales of more than £400m a year through a multi-channel business model that saw a mixture of own-brand and third party catering equipment and supplies sold online, through account managers and via a 30-strong network of retail stores.
But the closure of the hospitality sector during the last two months has seen orders fall away and its income reduced.
At the start of the month, FEJ revealed how the business had parted company with group CEO Klaus Goeldenbot as part of a move to streamline its management structure.
Moving forward, the business will be led by country managers, with support from Peter Sephton, senior director of Key West Holdings, the parent company of Nisbets.
The restructuring of its workforce will remove some of the cost from its business and allow it to cope with reduced demand and the changing needs of customers.
Mr Sephton said: “Nisbets is a strong business but we are sadly not immune to the extreme difficulties that are facing the whole of the hospitality industry right now.
“In the face of reduced demand and historically challenging trading conditions, we are undertaking a new restructuring process. Sadly, we have begun a 45-day consultation period with colleagues across the whole business on potential redundancies and anticipate up to 800 job losses.
“These are difficult decisions being taken in unimaginable circumstances, but our priority during this process will be to treat everyone with dignity, fairness and respect. Throughout the consultation, our aim is to safeguard as many jobs as possible.”
Nisbets has said redundancies will take place across all levels of the business and the exact number will be determined through the consultation period, which will run until early July.
Mr Sephton added: “Even in this difficult environment, many of our customers are reinventing themselves and changing their proposition. As we go into the most difficult period the business has faced, meeting these new needs now and in the future by launching new products will be the key to our success, and I’m confident this new, streamlined operating model will help us to do that.”