Potential price fluctuations when the Brexit transition period finishes at the end of the year means it could be more favourable for operators to make critical catering equipment purchases now rather than delay their decisions.
That’s according to UK industry players such as cooking equipment manufacturer Synergy Grill, which has suggested operators might want to “protect” themselves from possible price increases in the latter part of 2020.
Synergy chairman Justin Cadbury is confident that prices for UK-manufactured products will remain stable in the short term, but sounded a cautionary note for what might happen in the medium term.
“While there is no reason that prices for UK-manufactured product should increase in the short term, fluctuations in the run-up to Brexit at the end of the year, may have an effect,” he said.
“By placing orders now, operators can protect themselves from price increases, even when delivery is not required for much later in the year. The key is making sure the restaurant opens on time and runs smoothly.”
Keith Warren, chief executive of the Foodservice Equipment Association, agreed that while there is no need for customers to panic, operators in a position to make forward buying decisions are less likely to be disappointed.
“The availability of alternative component suppliers and the stockholding of finished product in the UK market means that there is a buffer that will cover any supply issues, certainly in the short term,” he said. “However, it will be increasingly important that orders are placed as early as possible to ensure that the expected product is available.”
Warnings of future price volatility come amidst industry concerns that the coronavirus outbreak will create a shortage in the availability of catering parts and components that come from China.
Many factories that have either closed or been operating at reduced capacity are only just beginning to ramp up production again, making some items difficult to get hold of.
Last week, Gram Commercial revealed it had been forced to source an “emergency” consignment of micro-switches from North America after supplies from China dried up.
Mr Cadbury naturally believes British manufacturers remain in a strong position to withstand potential supply issues relating to coronavirus, but said the more notice that operators can give ahead of orders, the greater benefit there will be.
“While products manufactured in Britain are less likely to be affected by the potential shortages that may affect those companies who import from China and the Far East, it is important that operators plan purchases of any cooking equipment in good time,” he said. “This will give British manufacturers sufficient time to handle any increased production demands.”
Synergy’s grills, which are built in Cambridgeshire, are used by a number of restaurants including TGI Fridays, The Alchemist, Ribs & Burgers and Cafe Spice Namaste.