Welbilt lifted by increased demand for catering equipment

Merrychef oven at Bird in Hand, Sandhurst

Welbilt has said that orders for catering equipment are “gaining momentum” and revealed it is lining up a series of new product launches as it bids to stoke the recovery.

Latest financial results from the manufacturer show that fourth quarter sales reached $320m (£230m), a 16% decrease compared to the same period in 2019, before the pandemic began.

Net earnings of $20.2m (£14.5m) were an improvement on the $18.4m (£13.2m) it achieved a year ago.

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In the Americas, sales to strategic QSRs and fast casual operators increased slightly over last year with improved demand for replacement equipment.

In particular, Welbilt benefited from increased demand for Merrychef high-speed ovens to multiple customers, while sales of Crem coffee machines were lifted by a small roll-out with an international governmental entity.

The EMEA region also saw sequential improvement in demand from strategic QSRs.

Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Welbilt, said: “We made progress on several strategic initiatives in the fourth quarter. We shipped more equipment with common controllers and worked to incorporate these controllers into additional brands.

“Our newest version of KitchenConnect, our open cloud solution for the foodservice industry that improves efficiency, reduces costs and enhances food quality, was well received in the market and multiple chains have expressed an interest in adopting KitchenConnect into their operations.

“The launch of our new mid-tier Convotherm Maxx line of combi ovens in the EMEA and APAC markets exceeded our expectations. We have several new product launches across multiple product lines planned for 2021 that we are equally excited about including the new Merco automated contactless pickup lockers that are expected to be available over the next couple of months.

“We are continuing to focus resources on innovations that are likely to see increased demand due to the public’s heightened awareness of contagious diseases, such as ghost kitchens and enhanced sanitation features within our equipment.”

Mr Johnson said the fourth quarter results “demonstrate the momentum we are gaining as a company in the execution of our strategy”.

He added: “I am very proud of this team and remain confident that we will deliver the 500 basis points of margin improvement while delivering our balance sheet when business conditions return to pre-Covid levels.”

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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