After a development period of 18 months, Classeq has launched a complete new range of machines, along with a rebrand for the company. FEJ tracked down CEO David Smithson for an exclusive chat about the rationale behind the changes and the various forces shaping this vitally-important category of the market.
How does the new collection compare with what you previously offered?
With our new Standard and Duo range, we have taken every aspect of our previous ECO and DUO range and improved on it wherever possible — from simplifying the wiring to using universally-recognisable symbols on the control panel and documentation, and giving the models a sleek new look. The main change, though, is the digitisation of the range. Working with a top mechanical design agency in London, we have created a user interface which is highly simple to use and boasts a modern new look. The software has been created specifically for each machine, using years of experience and valuable insights from our parent company Winterhalter.
What’s the reason for the timing of the new launch?
Our new range has been in development for the past 18 months. We’ve really stripped back the old range and made some major improvements. We’ve had machines on trial since June 2016 and have received great reviews from customers — many commenting on the results and ease of cleaning with the option of changing temperature settings and time cycles.
How significant is this roll-out in the context of Classeq’s overall warewashing portfolio development?
Since the acquisition of Classeq in 2004, we have made several developments across the model range, with the most significant step change being seen in our latest undercounter models. The new electronic generation benefit from our substantial ongoing investment in R&D, providing a highly reliable, highly intuitive and easy-to-use interface. This is the start of some exciting times for Classeq and the full warewashing portfolio.
What stand-out features of the Standard and Duo models did you not have in previous models?
The most significant standout feature is the move to digital from electro-mechanical. The control panel and electronics have been through a thorough R&D process to ensure they perform well, are simple to use and are reliable in the field. Another standout feature is the introduction of cycle programmes for the Duo ranges, giving more flexibility to operators without over-complicating the warewashing process. Aesthetically, the machines have had an overhaul. A new sleek door design and modern control panels really complement the upgrade and visually speak for themselves.
What is Classeq’s manufacturing strategy now? How much actual manufacturing is done in the UK?
Classeq machines are fully developed and manufactured in Stafford. Our growth in recent years, both in the UK and export sales, has outstripped the capacity of our current premises and we are presently building a new manufacturing facility which is due to be completed in August 2017.
“Our growth has outstripped the capacity of our current premises and we are presently building a new manufacturing facility, which is due to be completed in August 2017”
How has the Brexit vote impacted on your business?
Brexit has had no real impact on the business to date. Until Article 50 is triggered, it will be hard to tell what implications will transpire but the Winterhalter group sees any investment as long-term and we are well prepared to react in anyway necessary across global markets.
How do you see the UK warewashing market in 2017?
We see the market as being marginally tougher, perhaps more from price pressure and currency fluctuations, but don’t foresee that it will be a year of any significant change in investment patterns within the hospitality sector.
You’ve initiated a company rebrand as well. What does this entail?
Following the decision to dramatically update our undercounter range to digital and the introduction of our new modern look, we were ready for a new era. The rebrand involved looking at our business globally in conjunction with our key distributor partners and their vision of Classeq. This research enabled us to develop our brand promise and positioning. In terms of brand positioning, we identified ‘simplicity’ as our key point of differentiation, and from that our new strapline was born: ‘Warewashing made simple’. The brand promise comprises three core assurances — simplicity, quality and affordability.
Buyers’ guide: the difference between Standard and Duo
• Designed to be a good quality, reliable and simple-to-use warewasher.
• Incorporates digital controls and electronic systems, including a control panel with two straightforward buttons (on/off and cycle).
• Use of simple controls and internationally-recognised symbols to minimise training requirements and remove language barriers.
• Data collection and storage tracks the number of cycles and chemical dosage levels to ensure optimal use.
• Electronic chemical dosing improves accuracy and can be adjusted easier through the control panel.
• Duo range has all the features found in the Standard range, plus some key additions. This includes LCD digital displays showing accurate wash tank and rinse boiler temperatures and cycle options.
• Two additional buttons allow the user to select wash programmes and make adjustments to settings.
• Where the Standard range offers the recommended three-minute dishwashing cycle and two-minute glasswashing cycle, the Duo models have a choice of additional wash programmes.
• Dishwashers have three cycle choices: standard (three minutes); heavy (five minutes); and intense (eight minutes).
• Glasswashers have two cycle options: standard (two minutes) or light (1.5 minutes).