Keith Warren, chief executive of the Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA), has commented on the value of the equipment industry following prime minister Boris Johnson's weekend statement.
Warren said: "Obviously the FEA supports the government's commitment to controlling Covid-19. Having said that, July is a long way away and, frankly, there are no guarantees that much will happen once we get there.
"From FEA's point of view, the critical thing is that the equipment supply chain gets the same support as the hospitality industry. There are 10,000 workers in the foodservice equipment supply chain, who support the three million-plus workers in hospitality. Without the equipment supply chain, the foodservice industry cannot function. So, government needs to ensure manufacturers, dealers, consultants, designers, and service supply companies are still around when lockdown is lifted for foodservice operators.
"That means alignment in terms of business rates, staff furloughing, repeal of the apprenticeship levy and so forth. We believe the government should also supply financial aid to support continued R&D, so that manufacturers can develop the equipment that the ‘new normal' will need – such as cooking appliances that can produce more menu items from a smaller footprint, in order to aid social distancing in the kitchen area."
FEA has been working tirelessly since the beginning of the crisis and last week met with the shadow minister Lucy Powell MP, shadow minister for Business and Consumers, calling for Labour to back the whole foodservice industry.
On 7 May, the FEA took part in a round table discussion hosted by Powell with other hospitality organisations to discuss how the current support schemes, such as furloughing, are working, how to manage moving out of the lockdown, and how to pressure government to act.
Other delegates at the round table included Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality; Peter Ducker, chief executive, Institute of Hospitality; Tom Stainer, chief executive, CAMRA; and Steve Alton, chief executive, British Institute of Innkeeping.
As the meeting ended, Warren called for the Labour party to unite behind the whole foodservice industry – operators, food and beverage suppliers and equipment suppliers – to represent its collective voice to government, and to ministers to account "on behalf of us all."
Warren said: "It was a very positive meeting and there is now real impetus behind the campaign to ensure the government understands and responds to the needs both of the hospitality industry as a whole and to the supply chain – including foodservice equipment suppliers."