FEA chief executive Keith Warren has said that feedback from FEA members regarding current trading conditions is ‘universally grim', estimating that the foodservice equipment sector contracted by about a sixth between January and March this year.
Year on year, the sector is down by around a quarter compared to the first quarter of 2019, with the outcome for Q2 predicted to be a lot worse.
The main factor for the contraction in January and February was operators pulling back and a general tightening of the market. "We don't think it was all a result of Brexit," added Warren. "Members were reporting that the market was down and now, with more detailed feedback, we believe it was in significant decline.
"But there is no doubt that, whatever the reason at the time, since then Covid-19 has exasperated the problem catastrophically. Many foodservice equipment companies have seen their sales drop by 100% as a result of the crisis. If you've lost 80% of sales, you're doing well."
Warren sees no likelihood of change while the hospitality market's doors are shut. Even when things start opening again, it will take time for confidence to return, both for foodservice operators and their customers.
"The good news is that foodservice operators are looking into ways to restructure their businesses to address the challenges," Warren concluded."There will be the need for new layouts, possibly extended opening hours, and there's the growth in delivery and takeaway. It won't be business as usual, but it will be business."