Fuller’s is set to complete a further 15 Ambach installs before the end of this year, as the pub chain continues to standardise its kitchens around the manufacturer’s high-end cooking equipment.
Since the pair began working together in 2013, Ambach has carried out approximately 60 installations across Fuller’s 193-strong estate of managed pubs, comprising a mix of full kitchens and one-off pieces.
Fullers’ director of food, Paul Dickinson, initially specified the brand after setting out on a mission to evolve its menus and kitchens.
As he has previously told FEJ, the group’s spend on new kitchens has trebled as part of a strategy to ensure its chefs have access to the best equipment around.
Today, Fuller’s offers hundreds of unique menus, each characterised by their fresh, seasonal local dishes, which have been created with customer feedback in mind, prepared on the day and delivered to customers in one-of-a-kind environments, from ancient listed buildings to buzzing modern pubs.
Its demands include ergonomics, shelf-life and the ability to flex with space constraint, which led it to opt for Ambach’s modular Chef 850 line. It offers complete configuration flexibility through a range of over 150 operating modules
“The majority of our properties are listed buildings and they’re not template kitchens, so a big question we have to ask is, ‘is the provider flexible?’” explained Mr Dickinson, adding that some of the brand’s kitchens work for 14 or 16 hours, so the kitchen also has to be fit for purpose.
“If a piece isn’t working, the knock-on effect on the kitchen is massive. Most diners come in for 45 minutes to an hour, and the more people you can feed, the more money you’ll make as long as you can maintain consistency. The kit cannot let you down.”
In many cases, Ambach has surpassed even Dickinson’s high expectations, not only by providing equipment in pieces and installing it on site in tough-to-access listed buildings, but by developing several pieces of kit especially for Fuller’s, which are now available to the company’s customers across the world.
Maurizio Vianello, Ambach’s general manager, confirmed: “We have developed a high-performance fryer for Fuller’s, which was a modified version of a fryer from within our marine range, as well as redesigning some internal components and gas connections. We are listening to them as much as they are listening to us and we’re always looking for ways to improve our products.”
Although in many ways the relationship between Fuller’s and Ambach has been a departure from the norm for both companies (Ambach typically partners with luxury hotels and Michelin starred restaurants, and five-star hotel standard islands are not usually found in the kitchens of a UK pub chain), neither parties have looked back.
“The story with Fuller’s is very interesting. It may seem surprising because Ambach’s value proposition is usually aimed at international hotel chains and fine dining restaurants, but at the end of the day it is not that surprising,” continued Mr Vianello.
“Paul was able to clarify Fuller’s precise needs concerning the equipment, which does not always happen, and thanks to the clarification of the group’s needs and the business model they wanted to put in place, we were able to provide him with the right solution. Our business is not to work with people who just want to save money on equipment, but to work with people who want to invest to support their business model.”