As the current chair of the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) and the new sales director for Brita Professional, Glenn Roberts has had his hands full for the first quarter of 2017. He talks to Lisa Jenkins about his plans for CESA and how he's adapting to his new industry role.
CESA's market strategy focuses on key areas including Brexit, the development of a digital economy, education, sustainability and the circular economy (EU legislation) and the move from a supply chain to a value chain approach.
Roberts has been dedicating a day or two a month to expanding his industry knowledge and he hopes to find ways that CESA can be more representative of the industry it serves.
Alongside CESA director Keith Warren, Roberts and the executive committee plan to ask members for feedback on their key issues, on what tools they need, and how they want to communicate with their end-users.
"We are only relevant if we add value to the buyers of equipment - whether that's the chef or the purchasing director - so our members must represent the most professional and best products across all sectors and be able to show that the businesses spending money with them are getting value for money, best advice and, of course, excellent customer service," he explains.
"CESA has to continue to make itself a repository for information, connect digitally and inform the market. It's our responsibility to educate the end-users and publicise the choice and the benefits our members can offer."
Roberts and four other CESA executive committee members recently attended a meeting at Downing Street with CESA patron Lord Trefgarne and Lord Bridges, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Department for Exiting the European Union, to help keep the sector front of mind.
"When it comes to Brexit, we need to ensure that CESA has a loud and long voice," says Roberts.
Additionally, Roberts is keen to develop CESA's progress in training and education with the CFSP Accreditation scheme. There is a new entry-level programme, for those new to the industry, and a soon to be launched Enhanced level. Roberts sees these as part of CESA's commitment to highlighting the equipment industry as an attractive career choice for school leavers and graduates.
He is also aware that the equipment industry is in a time of flux, a period of maturation and consolidation, and political uncertainty. "There are sure to be some commercial headwinds ahead," he adds.
"The last recession tested everyone's business models and we all cut back; it made the equipment industry lean and mean, which was a good position to be in. Then along comes Brexit to slap us between the eyes!"
When it comes to his role as sales director of Brita Professional, Roberts works with Sarah Taylor, managing director for the Brita Group in the UK. He has inherited an experienced team with big plans - to make Brita Professional more visible and provide more thought leadership on a subject he believes Brita Professional knows best.
Hot beverages is a huge growth area for Brita Professional and Roberts intends to take full advantage of it. "Water is complicated," he says. "Of the chefs we questioned, 63% were unaware that optimised water improves the quality of food. That's definitely an opportunity for us as a company to help improve knowledge and help operators to develop more sustainable and cost effective businesses"
Look out for Brita Professional at the London Coffee Festival on 6-9 April at the Old Truman Brewery, London. For more details see www.londoncoffeefestival.com