The brand name and assets of defunct online catering equipment supplier Shop-Equip were recently snapped up by Sous Vide Tools in a move that its new owner insists will deliver major product benefits for operators. FEJ hears how it plans to breathe new life into the business.
Sous Vide Tools’ brand name has been both its biggest strength and biggest weakness over the eight years it has been in operation.
On the one hand it has succinctly captured what it does best and been integral in defining it as a category leader, but on the other it has forced the business to turn down exclusive supply partnerships on the basis that it hasn’t felt like an ideal fit.
So when the opportunity arose to take over Shop-Equip at the start of this year it was a chance to change all that, offering it a natural pick-up of an existing business with a strong reputation, client base and website.
Sous Vide Tools owner, Alex Shannon, wants to use the best aspects of both businesses to create a structure that provides choice and expertise for operators.
“We are good at taking niche products to market, which is what we’ve done with Sous Vide Tools,” he explains. “The Shop-Equip brand is completely different now, it’s not an internet-based sales company, it’s a shop window for exclusive brands.”
A couple of the brands which will be sold under the Shop-Equip name include Sage Commercial, which produces food mixers, and Hestan stainless steel cookware. “Everything we will be selling is the top end of the market, where a lot of research has gone in, so we will be telling the products’ story,” he says, adding that the bakery and ice cream sectors will be of particular interest to the firm going forwards.
To further illustrate the capabilities of each product, the Shop-Equip side of the business will be appointing chef ambassadors, drawing on the existing Sous Vide Tools experience of this business model.
The first of these to sign an agreement is pastry chef Graham Hornigold, who will be testing out Sage’s high speed vacuum blenders. Mr Shannon reveals: “He is going to take the product apart and tell us what’s good, plus he is going to help us develop recipes. So we are not just going to sell a food mixer, we are going to advise what it can do.”
Everything we will be selling is the top end of the market, where a lot of research has gone in, so we will be telling the products’ story”
This reflects the duality of the new-look Shop-Equip’s strategy. End-users will be able to purchase the equipment direct from the website, as well as through the wholesale dealer channel, with next-day delivery available for orders placed before 4pm.
Sous Vide Tools is also the team behind the introduction of Dutch brand Hendi to the UK market, launched early last year. That group owns a high-end porcelain producer called Fine Dine, whose tableware products should also be accessible via the Shop-Equip channel in the near future.
As a group, the firm now has 19,000 square feet of warehousing space to stock products, and retains its own engineers for after-sales support.
Mr Shannon concludes: “I just genuinely think the industry needs to change. We want people to move with the times. We are going to keep evolving; we need the business to grow, employ more people and support the brands that are supporting us in the UK.”