Welbilt will be harnessing the power of in-built connectivity within its portfolio of products to help operators self-analyse their own business for improved outcomes, while also focusing on providing innovative equipment solutions to help tackle staff shortages and reduce energy usage, says Pere Taberner, the firm’s vice president for West Europe and Africa.
What are the biggest trends that will shape product innovation and kitchen design in 2023?
The ongoing utility price crisis will mean that energy efficient equipment will continue to be one of the biggest demands from customers throughout 2023 and beyond. From products and equipment that heats up quicker and more economically, through to models that allow operators greater ability to cook outside of the main service hours, energy saving models will be at the forefront of innovation. The Convotherm maxx pro, for example, comes with an overnight cook mode as standard, which allows chefs to set the oven to cook at a lower temperature throughout the night, rather than requiring it to operate at high temperatures during peak hours. The other trend that we have started to see, is how two technologies can work in tandem to allow operators to operate a full scale service in a smaller kitchen with fewer pieces of equipment. For example, pre-preparing menu items in a Convotherm combi steamer, before finishing off at high speed in a Merrychef at point of purchase or order. This reduces the equipment footprint in a kitchen, thereby creating additional space.
What are the biggest menu or operational challenges that you think operators will face in 2023?
From an operational perspective, staff recruitment will remain one of the biggest challenges, both from a general staffing aspect, but also from being able to recruit individuals with the right skill levels. This ultimately means that the equipment which operators have within their establishment needs to be at a level where pre-programming and automation is a given, rather than being nice to have. Not only will this help to ensure that the venue can implement a process-driven operation, but that consistency of dishes is guaranteed. We are already starting to see how, within larger organisations, qualified chefs now create both the menu and the processes, whilst the day-to-day implementation is led by less qualified members of staff.
How else are you looking to support operators with reduced running costs? Is it purely all about product innovation and training?
Innovation and training are key factors, but equally as important is partnering and working even closer with the operator in order to be able to assist with all aspects of the business. Welbilt is frequently being involved more with the entire P+L to help suggest cost savings, improved equipment utilisation and even amends to ingredients and recipes. This partnership between us as the supplier and the customer ensures that we are not focused on single products and processes, but are more of an integral consultant to their entire operation.
One of the key areas where we assist operators is providing them with greater information than they have ever had before. This data is driven by the increasing percentage of Welbilt equipment that comes connected ‘out of the box’. In-built connectivity means that operators can analyse an ever growing number of facts, figures and insights that allows them to not only analyse what is happening at an outlet level, but across numerous venues and entire estates/portfolios.
What does the word ‘leadership’ mean to you – how does your business aim to demonstrate brand leadership?
Leadership is about knowing every element of our customers’ and partners’ business. It is about being involved in every stage of the process from early menu development through to developing day-to-day operational efficiencies. It is about understanding the challenges and problems that the customer encounters and providing solutions and equipment that help to answer their needs.
Leadership is about bringing an expertise to the discussions and partnering with the customer to develop their operation. It is about ensuring that our knowledge is shared with their entire team no matter their skill level. This is exactly why we run regular masterclass training events to ensure that everyone in an operation gets the opportunity to learn about the equipment, long after the initial sale has been completed.
What is the big focus area for you in 2023?
With the recent Ali Group acquisition, 2023 looks extremely exciting for Welbilt and therefore our customers. Due to the synergies within our operations, there is a wall of opportunity for product innovation and to develop an even greater leadership standpoint within the sector. Whilst it would be wrong to highlight specific plans at this stage, it is safe to say that everything we do will be built around providing solutions for the key challenges that we face in staff recruitment, the ongoing skills shortage and reducing energy usage even further.