“The pandemic gave us all time to reflect – now the pace of change is accelerating rapidly”

Peter McAllister, managing director

Falcon Foodservice Equipment offers a comprehensive range of reliable, innovative and efficient products for the catering industry, all built to the highest quality standards at its modern manufacturing facility. As a company with 200 years of pedigree to its name, managing director Peter McAllister explains why the company is so passionate about driving industry evolution.   

The pandemic has certainly given the industry time to reflect and review. Do you feel that despite the challenges there is a greater inclination for operators to try new ideas and menu offers?

While it’s certainly true that the pandemic gave all of us time to reflect, as we’ve come out of it the pace of change is accelerating rapidly. We’ve seen a mix of responses from operators in terms of reopening and getting back to business.

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Some have been keen to develop new concepts whilst others have just looked to get customers back through the door so have focussed on getting their sites operational, replacing like for like when required but putting any development plans to one side for now.

We recognise a desire from operators to constantly improve through the development of new ideas and concepts, and we pride ourselves on our ability to work closely with our customers, dealers, operators and suppliers to develop innovative solutions to their needs.

Innovation is in our DNA at Falcon and our R&D team love the challenge of designing new products to meet specific needs.

When developing a new concept, there is so much to think about – not least the equipment that is needed to produce it. How much attention needs to be paid to the equipment and operational set-up?

Equipment lies at the heart of new food concepts as you need the right equipment to be able to deliver the quality, quantity and variety of food that will keep customers coming back.

At Falcon we have an extensive range of products that cater for a wide variety of different needs and requirements.

For example, we manufacture so many options, from our traditional products such as ranges, chargrills and fryers to more specific equipment such as regen ovens, trolleys and serveries and bulk meal delivery systems. We also supply Lainox combination ovens, and a number of different accelerated ovens and even a microwave.

On top of these, we’ve now got the Connected Kitchen, so operators can monitor and record all aspects of their kitchen, and indeed wider facility, from anywhere. We believe we have the equipment to support every operational need, and if there are operators out there with new ideas that they need solutions for, we would encourage them to talk to us, visit our factory and speak with our team, which includes our product development chef Shaune Hall, to see how we can help.

In terms of the operators that are developing new concepts and new menu ideas, is it fair to say that you are seeing greater demand for more flexible equipment?

Absolutely, the demand for flexible and multifunctional equipment has never been greater. Every operator has their own challenges, be it power to the site, limited kitchen space, greater demand for takeaway / delivery to name but a few.

Products such as our flexi pan, which performs so many different methods of cookery and can be used for so many different menu items and combi ovens, with their greater capacity and versatility, are ideal.

The Vario-Therm bulk meal delivery systems offer a huge amount of flexibility too, with multiple configurations of chilled, heated or Vario (can be used as either a fridge or oven) compartments offering operators the solution to provide the best possible quality of food for their customers, regardless of any constraints.

Falcon has made some major investments at its site in Stirling, not least within the factory and development kitchen. What can you tell us about these over the past 12 months?

At the start of the pandemic we all faced the same fundamental questions – put plans on hold or accelerate them?

We decided to push on with product development and our capital investment to make sure we were in the best possible position to support our customers during lockdown and once the UK began to open back up.

At the height of the pandemic we took delivery of a new auto-tool brake press, which significantly reduces our efficient batch sizes and has allowed us to be even more flexible in manufacturing. We were appreciative of the support we received from AFE and the Ali Group to enable us to continue to invest during those uncertain times.

It’s not just equipment we’ve invested in, however. We continue to invest in our people too, both in terms of recruitment and training. We have welcomed a significant number of new employees across many areas of the business, including apprentices and via the government’s Kickstart Scheme.

We’ve also invested in our business systems and processes, with a new state-of-the-art phone system having been installed and a new customer relationship management system going live very soon.

We continue to find new and better ways to provide support to our customers from a culinary point of view, producing more videos and webinars from the development kitchen, while we launched a completely new website at the beginning of the year to showcase all we are able to offer.

We’ve done all this to ensure Falcon remains the most flexible, go-to brand in the industry. The investment in Falcon never stops though, and we’re working on enhancements to our customer areas such as our showroom and development kitchen.

Your product development activities increased during the lockdown and that resulted in some major new equipment launches. Which of these would you say are the biggest game-changers?

Our product development accelerated quickly over the last year or so and we’ve been able to bring to market a number of new solutions so it’s quite a challenge to pick one.

We’ve got the Falcon Connected Kitchen, which is an easy install, low cost IoT solution for all your facility monitoring and recording challenges, which is compatible with products from any manufacturer; or the new range of healthcare specific products under the Vario-Therm brand name, of which the bulk meal delivery system trolley is the focal point and star of the show.

However, if pushed to just choose one game changer then it would have to be the Fryer Angel integrated safety system, which has generated a huge degree of interest. It’s a unique sensor system that simply prevents fryer fires.

The multi-patented technology monitors oil level and cuts power to the elements / burners if insufficient oil is in the pan. This is a revolutionary piece of technology in terms of safety and has the potential to be like seatbelts in cars – was once an option but is now a key safety device on every single vehicle.

Finally, Falcon has a long and proud tradition in the cooking equipment market – what do you feel should be the most important considerations that operators bear in mind when specifying cooking equipment these days?

We do indeed have a long and proud tradition, it seems like we were celebrating our 200th Anniversary just a few months ago but we’re now heading towards our 203rd year.

We provide quality, reliable, innovative and value for money products manufactured in the UK. These have always been, and will remain, our core values and are built into every product we manufacture.

We are proud to be a part of such a great industry and are here to support operators in terms of products, spare parts, technical and culinary expertise and advice and to work with them to develop the solutions they need for their own businesses.

Falcon Foodservice Equipment is sponsoring the Operator of the Year for Best New Concept category at the 2021 FEJ Awards

Tags : Falcon Foodservice EquipmentFEJ Awards
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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