Rational UK said it has seen signs of a faster rebound than it anticipated following a pick-up in combi oven sales over the past three months.
Orders in July have crept up to around 70% of their usual volume for this time of year after the market crashed in April when the government instructed the hospitality sector to close.
UK managing director, Simon Lohse, said the business was seeing “quite a robust recovery” after a period of unprecedented volatility.
He described: “What we were seeing in February, prior to the lockdown, was a surge in project work and I think most people in our industry were seeing a lot of projects across all market segments, both public and private sector.
“And then obviously March curtailed that very quickly, particularly by the third week of March as we went into lockdown. April was just dead, we only saw around 20% of our normal order volumes and that was basically going into public sector, particularly healthcare, and some education.
“But then we’ve seen in May and June, and now into July, quite a robust recovery so we’re back up around 70%-ish already of the daily order intake. With the exception probably of casual dining, most market segments are starting to order again, which is probably a faster recovery than we were expecting.”
Rational rolled out its new iCombi and iVario cooking products shortly after lockdown started. Plans for a series of physical events to mark the new lines were shelved and instead it embarked on a successful virtual launch.
That also had a direct impact on some of the operational decisions it made, Mr Lohse revealed.
“We were very, very fortunate in one way in that because we were doing the online launch we had all the internal training to do for our sales people and our service people, we had the training to do for our dealer partners and we had to staff the product launch, which meant that we took the decision not to put anybody on furlough.
“As a result of that we were able to stay in contact with end-user customers, key account people and also all of our Deal partners and service partners throughout that time. We started to run online CookLive demonstrations and virtual visits as well as physical visits for our sales process, and overall I think that was fairly well-received in the market, which meant that we were in a good position to maintain that contact once things started to release and open up again.”
Mr Lohse was speaking on this week’s episode of Market Talk, which also featured Airedale Group CEO Rob Bywell.
Catch the full conversation below.