The second-hand catering equipment market could be worth £250m within a few years as a rise in the number of companies looking to responsibly offload product adds to the volume of kit available for resale.
Specialist surplus equipment handler Ramco says it has witnessed a dramatic spike in activity within the foodservice sector during the last 18 months, leaving it adamant that its ‘cash it, don’t scrap it’ mantra is resonating with the market.
Paul Fieldhouse, business development manager at the Skegness-based outfit, which initially started out 20 years as a partner to the Ministry of Defence, said operators were now thinking twice about how to deal with unwanted equipment.
“Operators and distributors alike have been seeking to dispose of unwanted assets in an increasingly environmentally responsible way. CSR and compliance is high on the agenda and people are recognising there is a better solution than stainless ending up as scrap. In addition, they welcome the opportunity to benefit financially as Ramco manages the process seamlessly, with collection, recycling and marketing of the equipment, then a share of the cash,” he explained.
Mr Fieldhouse said that a lack of planning among operators is also driving demand for its services, with customers approaching it for help when they suddenly need to clear a site.
It recently carried out some time-critical work for a major UK airport that called on it to uplift all catering equipment from an airside kitchen refurbishment project. The equipment was destined for the skip until a project manager involved with the site heard about Ramco.
Within 24 hours the company had assembled a night-time extraction team to remove the kit during the early hours of the morning and transport it to Ramco’s warehouse. Once cleaned and inspected it was placed into a specialist online auction, selling to a variety of pub, restaurants and other eateries around the UK.
Mr Fieldhouse said the company’s estimation that the surplus catering equipment is on course to be worth £250m was based on the size of the new market and what it knows it can get for second-hand equipment.
He said there have been periods during the past year when the company believes it has been the UK’s biggest reseller of items such as Rational ovens and Foster fridges, such is the quantity of equipment that has passed through its books.
In terms of conduits for the supply of second-hand kitchen appliances, Mr Fieldhouse said it was difficult to identify a “sweet spot” but cited new business start-ups, independent restaurants and social enterprises as frequent customers. It also does a significant amount of export business.
Asked what proportion of the equipment that it comes into contact with is resold, he said: “What I can tell you is that less than 1% of what we handle across the board goes to landfill. We parts harvest, we are WEE compliant and we have different channels for selling. We will sell from site, which we have done recently with a well-known casual dining chain, we sell direct, we have an eBay site and we also run exclusive auctions, where it is clearly identified as high quality catering equipment.”