It has been a busy 12 months for Smeg and its commercial products division following a renewed attempt by the brand to develop its professional product line in the UK market.
One person who can vouch for that is Phil Coulstock, the man hired to drive Smeg’s commercial business and set up a distribution and service network capable of supporting end-user customers around the country. Coulstock, previously a salesman at foodservice equipment giant Hobart, has overseen the launch of Smeg’s new commercial warewashing range from a relative standing start in the market — and he is delighted with the progress so far.
“As a new venture for both myself and Smeg UK, we couldn’t be happier with the results and successes of the year in the warewashing category, plus the year-on-year growth of our ALFA ovens sales via our exclusive partner RH Hall,” he says.
Smeg has had a commercial presence in the UK for some time, but it is fair to say it is far more structured now. With the support of such a well-known brand name behind it, Coulstock has been able to move the business forward in a short space of time. That doesn’t mean it has been easy, though. One of the biggest challenges, especially in the initial period, was managing the expectations of the factory.
“Many other subsidiaries within Smeg began selling commercial warewashing a number of years ago and we were very much playing catch-up,” he explains. “Once the sales started to come through, the challenge shifted to adjusting internal systems to cope more effectively with the reactive nature of the commercial world. Smeg has a fantastic team of backroom staff including office staff in Abingdon and our own logistics team in Portsmouth.
“Their ability to cope with the differences in Smeg’s route to market between domestic retail and the commercial distributors has been incredible. From day one, the customers have embraced the products although this is exactly what I expected for such a desirable brand offering well-built, affordable commercial products.”
Aside from creating the right product mix for the UK market, one of Coulstock’s primary tasks has involved building a distributor channel to ensure that end-customers and buyers are sufficiently supported. This, he says, is an ongoing job and more evolution will take place over the next 12 months.
The most important thing, he stresses, is that British-based customers that start working with Smeg and specifying its equipment can be assured that the right service and support networks are in place.
Smeg offers a well-built product range, with market-leading specification that sits sensibly priced against the competition
The company’s service network, Smeg Service, is operated by long-term partner Servevast, which is ready to react when service calls do arise, while Smeg Logistics has also helped support its growth and proved to be another feather in its cap. As the business grows, the company also plans to look to partners such as transport specialist Norbert Dentressangle for help with deliveries further afield, while the appointment of two new sales staff to support Coulstock’s efforts in the field offers further evidence of Smeg’s desire to become a force in the catering and restaurant world.
Coulstock is only too aware that buyers have a multitude of options when it comes to equipment selection, especially in the warewashing sector where some huge incumbents exist, but he is confident the quality of its offering can stand up to any like-for-like models offered by its competitors.
“Smeg offers a well-built product range, with market-leading specification that sits sensibly priced against the competition, as well as offering unrivalled deliveries and back-up support,” he says. “The brand is approaching the established market differently with the most important ingredient being that Smeg is a large family-owned and -run manufacturer, who is still small enough to care.”
With a recent successful showing at The Hospitality Show behind it — where it got to showcase its brand to dozens of leading foodservice operators and chains — the company with the sexy kitchen appliances is confident of making a statement in the commercial market.