FEJ AWARDS 2019 PARTNER INTERVIEW: Ceda breaks out of its silo to connect the industry


18 months on from embarking on a mission to refocus and grow its membership base, Ceda has seen the number of catering distributors and service providers in its ranks swell by 20%. Director general, Adam Mason, is always encouraged when companies tell him they have secured business as a direct result of being a Ceda member, but he insists there are still many more goals for the organisation to achieve.

18 months ago you set out on a mission to refocus and grow your membership base, as well as reach out to the wider foodservice industry. How pleased are you with the way things have evolved?

‘Satisfied’ would sum it up. We’ve made some significant progress but we’re conscious this is only the beginning of our medium-term plans. Membership numbers have increased by over 20% in that time and we are always encouraged when members tell us that they have secured business as a direct result of being a Ceda member. But there is much more to be done.

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The combined annual turnover of your members is more than £650m. Do you think the scale and importance of the Ceda membership is sometimes overlooked by the wider foodservice industry?

I do think it is, but we only have ourselves to blame for that. For too long we have been very inward-looking, both as an association and an industry. Our marketing activity is now better than it ever has been and focuses on promoting Ceda and Ceda members to end-users and operators and all areas of the supply chain. We’re breaking out of our silo and our messages are now being heard more.

You have a 2022 development plan in place — can you share details of what that entails?

Three years ago we embarked on a significant review of the association and the industry to ensure that we were providing the support and services that our members required in order that they were best prepared to face challenges and best-placed to take advantage of opportunities. We have accomplished a good deal but there are still a number of initiatives that are in the development stage. All, and more, will be accomplished by
our 50th anniversary in 2022.

Your members offer a wide range of services — from design and installation to project management and service. Are firms evolving more towards total solution providers or looking to specialise in one area?

It’s an interesting question and we are very much seeing both approaches achieving great success within the membership. On the one hand, traditional service-only companies are now becoming involved in equipment supply and installation, perhaps with design work involved too. And on the other, those with a niche focus on a particular service are growing business as a result of that very targeted approach. Our members have displayed great entrepreneurship and agility in adapting to what has been and continues to be a very dynamic industry.

Our members have displayed great entrepreneurship and agility in adapting to what has been and continues to be a very dynamic industry”

What benefits are there for operators that work with Ceda members as opposed to non-Ceda members?

Ceda members are supported by their association in many ways, whether that’s being up-to-date on the latest technical and technological innovations or having access to learning, education and professional development tools. Our Code of Practice should also provide end-users and operators with a comfort factor that they are dealing with responsible businesses that are operating in accordance with definitive industry standards.

You have been involved in the past year in developing new training and best practice initiatives. Is there a knock-on benefit for operators?

Absolutely. We want to elevate our members, our members’ employees and the industry at large. Providing access to training and learning opportunities means that operators should have confidence that they are working with professionals for every design, equipment and project requirement that they have.

Kitchen design is a fundamental aspect of the work carried out by many of your members — do you think it is becoming a more specialised art form as kitchen spaces and concepts become more challenging?

It is very much a specialised art form and Ceda members are rising to these challenges and are right up there leading the way in innovative design. Commercial kitchens are very technical and technological, the food service and eating areas need to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing and the more that the lines between those areas become blurred, the greater the challenge for the designer. The marriage of form and function is crucial.

Ceda is sponsoring the Operator of the Year for the Innovative Kitchen Design category at the 2019 FEJ Awards. For more details visit or follow @CEDAUK

Tags : CEDAFEJ AwardsFEJ Awards 2019
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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