With 40 years’ market experience to its name, Maidaid Halcyon has always prided itself on being a supplier capable of moving with the times while upholding the highest standards of performance. Sales director Robert Wager explains why the traits that it has always held dear will prove to be particularly valuable for operators as they find their feet again.
It’s been a turbulent year for the industry — how are things at Maidaid now that the industry has reopened again?
I’m delighted to say that we are seeing increases in sales, week on week, as the country returns to some sort of normality. This can only be a positive sign for hospitality and catering. The resilience shown across the entire industry during the last 16 months has been truly inspiring.
Our sales team is now back from furlough and out on the road. They are visiting all of our dealers to remind them that our core message remains the same as it has always been: Maidaid is here to support them, and in turn their customers, in any way we can.
What lessons have you learned from the past year — do you think you’ve emerged from Covid a different company?
Like every other company in the country, it’s been a challenge continuously adapting to the ever-changing business landscape. But our priority throughout has been to meet our customers’ needs — after all, without them we are nothing.
To this end we have introduced our improved lease purchase arrangements and offered a range of special promotions throughout the various stages of lockdown.
I feel our company principles remain the same, but we’ve taken a good hard look at our pre-pandemic processes and changed or amended them where required, so I am very confident that we are working more efficiently to ameliorate the incredibly difficult global circumstances.
What definitely has not changed is that our job, at the end of the day, is to support our customers to the very best of our ability at all times. We have successfully adapted and improved our processes to attain this goal.
Do you expect operators to adopt a bit of a ‘make do and mend’ culture when it comes to warewashing equipment this year or are you seeing enough evidence of demand for replacement equipment?
Our experience and research leads us to believe it will be very much a mixed bag for the rest of the year. Some sectors of the hospitality industry have been more affected than others, and every business is emerging from lockdown at their own pace. At Maidaid we are seeing that the main demand currently is on new machine sales, but we expect to see more enquiries for repairs as we get closer to coming fully out of lockdown.
How did Covid impact your product development strategy? Did you have to ease back on new product development?
Our product development has always been ongoing and consistent, therefore our latest planned strategies were well under way prior to the lockdowns, so our R&D hasn’t been affected.
Warewashing is clearly a harder sell when restaurants are closed and there are no customer plates to clean. But now the industry is functioning again, what sort of trends do you see in the category?
Number one, demand for improved hygiene processes in hospitality outlets — the pandemic has changed the general public’s view on hygiene forever. Cleanliness and hygiene has, of course, always been high on the agenda for the hospitality industry, but concerns and education about the spreading of viruses has ensured it has moved to the very top of the list.
Secondly, there is no doubt that the pandemic has created opportunities for both small, start-up businesses and larger groups to expand, diversify and have the exciting potential to alter the entire dining experience for the end-user. I watch this space with interest.
How does Maidaid help customers choose the right machines for their operation?
The Maidaid credo has always been ‘the right machine for the right price’. It is a statement of intent that is supported by every member of our personnel, from frontline sales through to the technical support team. We are here to assist our customers, from initial site surveys through to answering every question that our dealers can throw at us on capacity, dimensions, specification and, above all, appliance fitness for purpose.
Things like material costs and shipping costs have increased for suppliers and manufacturers this year. Should operators expect to see warewashing equipment become more expensive to purchase?
We had planned a price increase in June 2020, but for obvious reasons that was delayed. We therefore had our first price increase in over four years in May this year. There may be additional cost implications moving forward, as you rightly say, in connection with material costs and shipping expenses, but we have no plans to increase prices in the near future.
What do you regard as your key customer base in terms of sectors and, with the industry back open again, do you see any clear opportunities to get into new markets?
I envisage that key sectors for us will be retail and the bar and pub sectors. With more outdoor eating and drinking continuing out of lockdown, we anticipate there will be a demand for bespoke preparation areas for this sector, to enable different workflow patterns and ergonomic solutions. We have over 45 years’ experience in the industry and often work closely with fabricators and designers to facilitate the perfect kitchen or bar, so we look forward to new challenges in the coming months.
You’re also a major player in ice machines. How is this side of the business evolving?
We absolutely see this as a major sector for growth for Maidaid. The brand is becoming much better known, and our extensive range means that our potential client base is extremely broad and varied.
As we all know, the days of sad and melting ice cubes in an ice bucket on a pub bar are a dim and distant memory — nowadays our customers are demanding cubes of every size, as well as pebbles, granular and flat flakes, in ice makers of varying capacities. We are supplying ice machines to bars, fast food outlets, restaurants, fresh food displays plus the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
What else can the industry expect from Maidaid in 2021? Can you shed any light on what might be around the corner?
We have an exciting launch later this year. However, that’s all I can say at the moment, so watch this space!