Significant growth in the availability and reuse of surplus catering equipment is widely expected as operators adjust to a radically different out-of-home dining market. But what is the process for offloading equipment that is no longer needed – and can you really make money from selling it at auction?
One company with the answers to those questions and more is Ramco Foodservices, which is vastly experienced in site closures and possess a comprehensive database of customers actively searching for surplus assets. FEJ caught up with head of business development Paul Fieldhouse to find out what really happens when operators decide their kitchen equipment needs a new home.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many operators to review their estates and assets – and in some cases they are closing stores. What sort of uptake or increase in enquiries have you seen for your services?
Ramco Foodservices has seen a sizeable increase in the demand for the disposal of catering equipment since the beginning of lockdown. With operators looking to mitigate any potential losses, many are left with no choice but to offload equipment as a way of earning a quick and easy financial return. The number of enquiries relating to catering equipment disposal received per month has doubled since February 2020.
Managing and disposing of unwanted foodservice equipment can be a daunting prospect, particularly if multiple sites are involved. What’s the first thing an operator needs to think about when going down this route?
There are a few important decisions a multi-chain operator must make in the initial stages of an equipment disposals project. We could either arrange for Ramco to collect the goods from each of their sites, or the operator could organise their own transport; each of these options would result in an auction being held from our Skegness facility.
Alternatively, we could also arrange for the operator to hold an onsite auction from each of their sites, or from their own storage facility. It is ultimately down to the operator to decide how they would like the project to be handled in the best interests of their business.
If an operator chooses to employ Ramco to manage surplus equipment, what do the next steps entail?
Ramco Foodservices offers bespoke disposal solutions; therefore, we will work with the operator to decide on the most suitable package for the best possible results. Location, logistics and transport, methods of sale, valuation, reserves, and collection of goods are all important things to consider.
It may be that we hold an auction, either from our Skegness facility or on site from the operator’s outlets. Alternatively, we are open to purchasing the equipment outright for a quick cash injection.
Auctions are an important channel for surplus equipment. How regularly does Ramco hold these and do they work in the same way as ordinary auctions that people are familiar with?
Ramco generally holds one dedicated catering equipment auction per month. However, at times when there is a large volume of surplus catering equipment available we would typically increase the size of the auction, or add catering items to our monthly general auction too.
The process is clear and simple and is much like a standard auction system. Registration is completed online, with our auctions generally closing from 10am onwards. There is a 30-second interval between each lot finishing, and if a bid is made in the final five minutes, then the lot end time will increase by five minutes to allow for additional bidding.
Are there any categories of catering equipment that routinely do well at auction – and, likewise, are there any that simply wouldn’t qualify for auction because of condition, regulations, or general lack of interest?
Generally, higher value items by well-known brands, such as Rational, Foster, Electrolux or Falcon Foodservice, tend to receive the most activity. However, combi ovens, particularly Rational, are without a doubt the best-performing type of catering equipment within our auctions. There are no limitations on items that are suitable for auction. We find that, for the most part, all catering equipment or OEM parts provided to us are suitable for auction.
As you would expect, you often find that some of the lower quality, older or more obscure items might not sell within the first auction but do typically sell successful another time. In our two most recent catering auctions, which included a total of 373 lots, only 35 (10%) did not sell successfully, which gives you an idea of the success rate of second-hand catering equipment in auctions.
What alternative options does Ramco provide for equipment that remains unsold following an auction?
If an item has not sold after featuring in two auctions, Ramco has an efficient and environmentally friendly procedure in place whereby the equipment is broken down and recycled. However, fortunately for us, it is rare that we get to this point, with much of the equipment we process successfully selling in the first instance.
It is our aim to ensure that as much equipment as possible is reused within the industry. Therefore, it is only when all sales and marketing techniques have been exhausted that we will allow the item to be thrown away or recycled.
The pandemic certainly looks like it could increase the volume of surplus or redundant catering equipment in the market in a way that would have been unthinkable at the start of this year. What effect do you expect this to have on market dynamics?
Covid-19 will undoubtedly cause continued disruption in the foodservice industry for the foreseeable future, with many restaurants having had no choice but to shut the doors already.
The signs suggest that the negative connotations that people have traditionally had of second-hand equipment are improving, although there is still much to be done.
With a potentially significant influx in the volume of second-hand equipment being made available in the market, and an increase of buyers with a limited budget, we expect to see the second-hand catering equipment space continue to develop in the coming months.
Turning unwanted kit into a profit stream
If improperly managed, surplus equipment can very quickly become a burden on the business, using valuable storage space, taking time, and costing money, causing a significant increase in operational costs.
Understandably, many operators fail to see the value that used catering equipment can bring, often resulting in significant volumes of equipment being thrown away every year.
However, there are several benefits associated with the effective management and resale of unwanted catering equipment:
– When surplus catering equipment is reused within the foodservice or catering industries, instead of being thrown away or scrapped, operators can earn a quick and easy financial return from the sale of their goods.
– By efficiently disposing of unwanted catering equipment, operators can reduce their overheads because of:
Minimising storage costs
Eradicating any costs associated with the removal and scrapping of equipment
Improved operational productivity and efficiencies
Improve environmental reputation and attract more customers
– By adopting a more circular approach to the management of surplus catering equipment, operators can integrate sustainable practices into their business operations and improve their environmental reputation.
At a time when there is increasing consumer pressure for businesses to operate ethically, operators engaging with waste reduction and sustainability will be able to reap the benefits of creating a more attractive outlet for consumers to dine within.
5 organisations championing equipment recycling
1. Mitchells & Butlers
The project, which commenced earlier this year, has already led to more than 100 pieces of catering equipment finding new homes within the foodservice and hospitality industry, ultimately helping it to reduce their use of landfill by 274 cubic metres and significantly improve their reputation for being an environmentally friendly organisation.
2. Byron Burgers
Following the closure of 20 restaurants, Byron contacted Ramco to discuss the disposal of its surplus catering equipment.
After undertaking a couple of trial sites, Ramco was commissioned to undertake the removal and resale of equipment from all sites around the UK, helping Byron to turn surplus assets into much needed cash, all within a compliant and transparent process.
3. The National Memorial Arboretum
A rather tricky removal project was undertaken on behalf of Fatboys Catering Equipment at
The equipment was housed in a temporary structure with limited vehicular access and very little room in which to operate. Rising to the challenge, the Ramco team used its expertise to decommission and trans-ship the equipment onto larger transportation, allowing safe removal from site.
4. Government Legal Department
Ramco arranged for an auction to be held on site from the GLD’s now former offices in London, creating a more profitable and environmentally friendly solution. A variety of large kitchen equipment was resold, preventing the GLD from paying a significant cost to have their surplus kitchen equipment removed, which was their initial plan.
5. First Choice Group
Ramco helped First Choice to transition away from its ‘end of life’ approach and improve the company’s environmental footprint through a reduction in waste. Additionally, First Choice has been able to minimise their storage costs and create a more productive, competitive operation.