Despite pressure from suppliers and the setting up of a rival procurement system, the Government Procurement Service (GPS) has reiterated that it will recognise only the framework it established in September 2012.
Last year the RM922 framework named Hobart UK as the only compliant supplier of cooking and ancillary equipment, food preparation equipment and warewashing equipment for central government, NHS Trusts, MoD, and local authority contracts, sparking anger among other suppliers.
Since then Meiko UK has set up its own independent pricing structure, in partnership with Pro5 and the NHS price comparison website www.Peto.co.uk
, to rival the official framework.
But GPS has confirmed that it will not recognise the alternative structure. In a statement, it said: "There was no agreement with local government procurement organisation Pro 5 to produce an alternative framework.
"We want to get the best value for every taxpayer pound we spend in every government contract. That is why GPS awards frameworks only as a result of a transparent and a fair tendering process that focuses on achieving maximum value at competitive prices."
GPS said it would work with the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) to answer any concerns raised by the industry relating to the procurement exercise, including offering one-to-one briefings.
CESA director Keith Warren confirmed: "CESA will continue to work with the GPS to help them with the tender process in future."
Stephen Kinkead, managing director of Winterhalter UK, said that the entire process had caused confusion and disbelief, though the outcome had had little effect on the letting of government contracts.
He asked: "How come nearly all of the major catering equipment manufacturers didn't even get past the first hurdle of the process?
"Manufacturers seem to have been penalised for a failure to complete a form rather than their ability to produce good-quality, reliable and energy-efficient equipment.ã
"However, now the dust has settled we, in common with most other quality manufacturers, have seen little change in business as a result of the GPS muddle. We still supply to schools, colleges, hospitals and other public sector organisations.ã We're still on other government procurement frameworks.ã
"We're no better or worse off as a result of GPS, but this is no way to run a competitive government procurement tender, which does not seem to have achieved its ultimate objective."
The GPS said it would continue to work with CESA, DEFRA, the Carbon Trust, CEDA, FCSI and the BHA to establish working groups to develop generic specifications for improved, greener and more energy-efficient products.