It is no coincidence that Meiko’s UK headquarters is based just a few miles away from one of the world’s busiest airports.
For those that don’t know the background to the German brand’s arrival in the UK market 25 years ago, it started out as an airline catering specialist, supplying large washing systems to companies servicing Heathrow Airport.
That provided it with a solid platform from which to expand into other sectors and become one of the leading providers of warewashing and foodservice equipment in the country.
When the company set up shop in the UK, there were just a handful of employees on its payroll. Now there are 96 staff in the business and it inevitably won’t be long before it reaches three figures. Turnover initially was less than £1m, but by the end of this year it will be close to £20m.
And while those large dishwash systems that airline caterers came to depend on provided the majority of its income in the early years, Meiko now offers a diverse range of products from undercounter and passthrough models to pot washers, rack transport machines and flight machines.
“Meiko UK has, without a doubt, grown to be the most highly regarded warewashing supplier in the UK catering industry,” insists managing director Paul Anderson, who took over at the helm of the UK operation from Bill Downie two years ago.
“Bill’s dedication to providing the very best in customer service is legendary in the industry and in establishing Meiko UK, he put in place a close-knit team of like-minded professionals,” he says. “Meiko has never sold ‘boxes’. We have always provided our customers with what we consider to be the best total package, backed by focused service and support and a sincere and genuine concern to secure the very best warewashing solution for the environment, as well as the customer.”
Given this year marks a quarter of a century since the company has been operating in the UK, it’s a good time to reflect on the success stories it has enjoyed over that time. But equally, the firm also needs to be looking ahead to what the future holds.
Anderson acknowledges that the next 25 years are likely to provide new and different challenges for Meiko. “Our goals for the future are guided by our concern for the environment as much as business issues. There is a looming water crisis that will see shortages in the UK, and it will affect how the catering industry runs its business unless we do something now.
“Meiko manufactures what I consider is the most environmentally-sensitive dishwashing equipment in the world. By working with our customers to design the most resource and labour efficient warewashing and food waste handling solutions, we can both help to improve the environment and show the rest of the industry what can be achieved.”
Anderson says Meiko is looking to benchmark a more sustainable future and remains firmly dedicated to helping customers in the foodservice market minimise their consumption of water, chemicals and energy.
“Meiko has always set the highest standards of customer service and after-sales care in the UK warewashing industry. The greatest service we can now perform for our customers is to do our utmost to protect the environment, while providing them with the best quality warewashing solutions,” he ends.
Meiko report calls on operators to think more about costly kitchen ‘blind spot’
Foodservice kitchens and their use of water — to cook, wash food and dishes, and clean — are “blind spots” when it comes to the energy-saving measures championed by operators, it has been claimed.
Poor water management — including inefficient use, improperly maintained equipment, poor staff practices, sewer blockages and leakages — is costing the industry a significant sum of money and also contributing to water scarcity.
And according to the ‘Why Care About Water’ report published by Meiko earlier this year, the issue is impacting the sustainability of foodservice operations locally, such as when a business competes for water with its neighbours.
Paul Anderson, managing director of Meiko UK, says: “Responsible water use is about interest in making this planet a better place. For users, it’s about savings on the bottom line: water costs can be between 1% and 2% of a UK-based company’s turnover. For warewasher manufacturers, it’s about better solutions. Every manufacturer should do the same. We need to agitate, to shake things up and to make sustainability the status quo.”
Figures contained in the report show that foodservice operators could achieve savings of 30% to 50% by investing in no-cost and low-cost water reduction techniques and technologies. That is the equivalent of more than £1,000 a year on the bottom line. Yet many operators are still focusing their water-saving efforts around washrooms rather than kitchens, and failing to educate staff in best practice actions.
“For operational foodservice staff, it’s easy to say, ‘it’s not my bill’ and leave the lights on, or the tap leaking and shrug off the consequences as ‘not my problem’. For warewasher manufacturers, it’s about cleaner solutions, not just clean plates,” continues Anderson.
“We need to look at the bigger picture and the steps we can all take to make a difference. Yet as business leaders, this is where we can and must do more, not just for the bottom line for the business — although this is a great incentive — but so we are also doing our bit for the planet.”