EDITOR’S VIEW: Tariff-free trade will help suppliers get back to focusing on the things chefs really want

Andrew Seymour grayscale

The industry has grown weary of political uncertainty over the past three years. Is 2020 the year when that finally starts to subside?

It would take a brave — some might say foolish — person to definitively answer ‘yes’ to that question, but there is at least a sense that the status quo has been broken.

Last month’s general election already seems an age ago, but the margin of victory earned by the Conservative party was welcome news to business owners desperate to see Brexit happen.

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It is the whole uncertainty of the situation that has strangled the life out of companies during the last few years and there is now a view that something is about to change — even if nobody has any idea whether it will turn out to be for better or for worse.

Industry trade body CESA says the election result gives the country “certainty and a clarity of purpose”.

It is not difficult to see why catering equipment suppliers might rejoice at that.

They have spent the past three years fighting unprecedented currency volatility, dealing with projects being shunted back and investing millions in bolstering their stockholding, only to see the deadline for leaving the EU twice pushed back.

The biggest issue facing the market now is free trade.

One vital area that sits firmly at the top of CESA’s agenda is the campaign for no regulatory divergence, as this would increase the cost of manufacturing and potentially make the UK a dumping ground for non-compliant equipment.

It has unequivocally stated that all its members want tariff-free trade to remain, as anything else will increase prices and lead to negative impacts on the market.

Manufacturers have already faced enough upheaval, so the extent to which bodies such as CESA can play a part in influencing stability could be crucial.

Before Christmas I spoke to executive chefs and food development heads from a number of big chains about what will make them invest in new equipment in 2020.

All were unequivocal in that kit which improves their operation and makes it better in ways than it already is will ultimately shape their decision over whether to splash the cash.

This leads precisely back to what suppliers really want to be doing: innovating, developing, selling and supporting.

It’s a lot easier to do those things well when you’re swimming with the economic tide rather than against it.

EDITOR’S VIEW: Could the most powerful worker in your kitchen be the one that doesn’t walk or talk?

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Andrew Seymour

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