Lincat reaches 50 years in business tomorrow – and the speed and agility of its R&D engine remains as central to its success today as it did in the beginning, according to the British catering equipment manufacturer.
The company is poised to launch a series of new product offerings in the coming months, including an energy efficient ‘Green’ range and new fryer and high-speed cooking innovation.
Lincat began life in July 1971 with a range of light-duty, back bar equipment known as Lynx. Today the Lincat portfolio now includes more than 2,150 products – with a handful of those explicitly created over the past year to tackle Covid challenges facing operators.
All of its equipment is manufactured at the company’s purpose-built production facility in Lincoln, which operates on a 24/7 basis and employs 200 operatives.
Paul Godfrey, group sales and marketing director for Lincat, IMC, Britannia and FriFri (below), insists the company’s relentless approach to product development is fundamental to its success.
“I have never worked with an R&D team that is so fast. This is our absolute strength – speed and agility. The dedicated focus on R&D is huge. We are a business that has grown from £24m [when it was acquired by the Middleby Corporation in 2011] to £55m. That is not just the market [growing] – I genuinely believe it is from the R&D side. It is about having new products and finding new markets.
“We are being smarter now. We don’t want to substitute-sell – let’s not make another oven similar to the oven we have got, let’s look at markets where there are specific price points or where there are specific challenges that operators get frustrated with.”
Lincat is active in no fewer than 85 countries these days, with the company’s £10m export business augmenting the huge volumes it does in the UK. Last year it dispatched over 70,000 pieces of equipment to all four corners of the globe.
One of the major projects it has been working on, and which will soon bear fruit, is a new Lincat Green range.
“The challenge we’ll be giving to R&D will be a certain range of product that we want at least a minimum cut in energy usage of 30%,” reveals Godfrey.
“It is something that is in the early stages but we are engaging with the customer base because this is about being on-demand, looking at ways that we can recapture energy. A big part of this from a marketing perspective is understanding that if customers do want this, would they pay more for it? Are they going to look at the running costs or are they just looking at the purchase price today? We have to look at return on investment with product.”
Lincat launched a Hot Air Display cabinet earlier this year and is planning a “whole new category” of hot-holding equipment, according to Godfrey, while its Cibo speed oven range will be expanded with additional models and price points. But the development he is most excited about is a new range of fryers due out later this year.
He declines to give anything away at this stage, except to say: “We have shown this range of fryers to probably our top 10 clientele and everybody is begging for it before it is launched! We are taking frying to the next level with technology, with use and customisation.
“We are going to give the end-user a fryer that they can decide almost exactly what they want it to be, whether it be for power, size, functionality, when they want to filter it, when they don’t want to filter it, if they want to lock it out, if they don’t want to lock it, if they want it to save energy, if they want it to get from a low temperature to a high temperature quickly — there will be a system there on that. It is going to be huge for us!”