The market for foodservice equipment in the UK has witnessed a positive change in fortunes in the last few years as the economy recovers and grows in strength. Phil Coulstock takes a look

The UK commercial catering equipment market was worth somewhere in the region of £765 million in 2014 (AMA Research) and looks likely to have gone to the £800 million mark in 2015 if we look at evidence of increased sales in 2015 surveys from the likes of the Catering Equipment Distributors Association (CEDA).

There are a number of interesting and developing trends that are impacting on the foodservice equipment market including the public’s willingness to continue to dine out and to support their local high streets, the need for sustainability and the impact of legislation. The growth in casual dining, street food and innovative restaurants has encouraged the launch, development and expansion of a host of independent and multiple site operators. Added to this we have seen a demand for equipment that takes up a smaller footprint, probably as operators compete for prime locations and have smaller spaces to devote to kitchen and front-of-house areas.

There has been something of a blurring between consumer tastes and trends in the high street, and catering for employees, sports venues etc with the latest concepts from street food and wood-fired pizza ovens, to barbeque and craft beers crossing over. This means that foodservice equipment manufacturers and distributors have developed more specialist systems to allow operators to satisfy consumer tastes. They also need to have equipment that is adaptable and flexible. A good example would be the emergence of combi ovens that offer a range of cooking options with roasting, baking, steaming and easy-to-use multiple programmes. Smeg is currently developing a range of its own commercial combi ovens to supply this demand, which it hopes to launch soon.

Energy needs
We have seen the push for more energy efficient and sustainable commercial catering equipment gather pace in the last few years; this coming from increasing energy costs, legislation and also the desire from the public and many operators to reduce negative environmental impact. Equipment manufacturers have answered the call for energy efficiency with technological developments for example using heat recovery systems in warewashers to heat up the incoming cold water supply, or induction cooking that only heats the pan when it’s on the hob. As already highlighted they are also making smaller appliances adding to sustainability with less raw material, fewer components and less negative impact from logistics.

There will be a lot of new ideas and technology promoting energy efficiency on show at Hotelympia in 2016. Smeg will launch digital touch control panels for warewashers that allow precise control and increased problem solving capabilities. The operating software updates will be able to be uploaded via wireless internet and Bluetooth devices. This feature will allow continual improvement of the machines with precise modifications that will improve operating and energy saving for each individual operator, depending on what they wash and when they wash it. We think this could be a groundbreaking development.

Married together with technology we also see foodservice equipment companies working with their Equipmentdistribution partners to improve energy efficiency and sustainability with thorough training and maintenance programmes for customers. They enable operators’ kitchen and front-of-house staff to know exactly how appliances should work, how they should be cleaned and maintained and the importance of regular servicing for optimal operation and longer operating life.

Case Study

Style and service
As a recent new owner of an Esquires coffee house franchise, one of Taz Patel’s key tasks was to undertake a refurbishment of her site at St. George’s Shopping Centre in Harrow. The first big headache was the existing dishwasher leaking and it needed a number of expensive parts replacing.

Thinking about where she could find a replacement dishwasher that would withstand the rigours of the coffee house and be faithful to the founding principles of the Esquires coffee chain with its strong commitment to ethical trading and sustainability she took inspiration close to home. In fact in her home Taz has Smeg domestic appliances in the kitchen, and being impressed with the products’ mix of functionality, reliability, sustainability and style, she decided to see if Smeg had a commercial equipment offering. Once she was on the Smeg Foodservice Solutions website Taz contacted Smeg to discuss the range.

Smeg Foodservice Solutions Phil Coulstock and Martin Dawson met with Taz on-site in Harrow to listen to what she needed and then carry out a full site survey.

The enquiry was passed to Smeg Foodservice Solutions’ dealer First Choice Marshalls in Uxbridge who supplied and installed one of the newly launched CW522D twin rack under counter dishwashers.

Talking about the refurbishment of Esquires and the impact of the new Smeg dishwasher Taz says: “We have a relaxed environment which is stylish, but reflects the artisanal approach to the food and drink we serve. That said we have really busy periods where lots of cups, saucers and side plates need to be washed quickly and very effectively. The Smeg fits perfectly into our kitchen space and easily handles the spikes in trade we experience during lunch times, weekends etc.”

The Smeg CW522D machine fitted the customer’s brief because the items being washed were predominantly cups, saucers and side plates and the CW522D gave them the ability to double their wash capacity during busier periods. This improved the ability for staff to keep the wash-up area clearer as it could be viewed from the landing of the upper floors of the shopping centre.

Phil Coulstock is commercial channel director for Smeg (UK). Well known for its iconic domestic appliance range, Smeg also manufactures professional foodservice equipment for the catering and hospitality industries. Significant investment in R&D allows new technologies to be shared between domestic and professional ranges to provide measurable specification and performance benefits.