UK trade associations the Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) and CEDA have written a joint letter to the prime minister, calling on the government to give the same support to the foodservice equipment industry as it has to the hospitality sector.
In the letter the two associations point out that the equipment supply industry has suffered a catastrophic decline in sales of 90%-100% because of the Covid-19 crisis.
The letter, signed by Keith Warren (pictured above left), chief executive of FEA, and Adam Mason (right), director-general of CEDA, said: "It is critical that there is total alignment between our sector and the hospitality operator sector. This should include equipment manufacturers, distributors and importers, designers, dealers, service and spare parts companies.
"Only by doing this will there be the infrastructure, skills and services to support current needs and support the regeneration of the industry when that time comes."
The associations are seeking an extension to the furlough scheme for the foodservice equipment supply chain in line with any parallel development for hospitality industry operators, and immediate alignment with business rates support as an eligible group.
Many foodservice equipment supply companies are facing even greater financial pressure because their customers are withholding payment of debts – sometimes demanding nine months' credit. FEA and CEDA are calling on the government to address this: "It is totally unacceptable if these businesses are receiving government support. It should be conditional to foodservice operators receiving furlough or business rate support that suppliers are paid to terms."
The letter offers other suggestions as to how the foodservice equipment industry and the wider hospitality sector can be supported through the crisis.
"Time is of the essence. Only with [this support] can our sector assist with the delivery of the equipment and services required to support the country through this crisis. It will also ensure that there will be viable companies with the vital skills and services that are essential to support recovery as quickly as possible."
FEA's patron, Lord Trefgarne, is personally sending copies of the letter to senior cabinet ministers, including the chancellor Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove MP.