Continuing our series looking behind the scenes at some of the major suppliers to the hospitality market, we catch up with Steve Mitchell, managing director of Lincat.
Q How would you describe your business?
A We manufacture a wide range of cooking, holding and food display products. The range is growing all the time - we're probably now the biggest wholly-British manufacturer of commercial catering equipment. We supply our range through a network of dealers both in the UK and overseas.
Q What is the company's objective?
A We have always placed great emphasis on providing stable employment for a growing workforce here in the UK. The manufacturing industry in our part of the country has been badly hit in recent years and so we recognise our responsibilities in this respect to our workforce of some 200 people. To maintain this position, we strive to offer our customers quality products at reasonable prices on the road to our ultimate goal of becoming the first choice for catering equipment in the UK.
Q What are the current issues facing your food service customers?
A People spend less on eating out during a recession, so our customers have to compete ever more effectively for their share of a shrinking cake. This means that food offerings are being revised far more frequently. The recession also drives customers to seek best value when selecting catering equipment.
Q How do you help them address these issues?
A We're able to react quickly to demands for new or adapted equipment to meet the changing needs of our customers. We also strive to offer quality products at affordable prices. This carries through the whole product range. Even our heavy duty Opus 700 range, which has sold strongly into national accounts like Punch Taverns and Sainsbury's, offers keen pricing compared with other manufacturers.
We also introduced supportive terms for dealers last year to help them with the recession, which they have passed on to their customers.
Q What are the questions your customers ask most regularly?
A Increasingly, customers are asking about whole life costs, where aspects such as product life and running costs are relevant, whereas initial purchase price had become the principal focus during the depths of the recent recession.
We welcome this development but find it frustrating that no industry-wide standards exist in this context. So we are developing test protocols to be able to give customers a realistic measurement of whole life costs under typical usage conditions.
Q What do you believe will be the next big trend in your market?
A There's no doubt that energy efficiency will become increasingly important, particularly once economic recovery is felt to be truly under way. Otherwise, we don't really try to anticipate trends as we have a large team of product design engineers who can react quickly to changing requirements. If anything, we help to drive the changes that go on to become trends.
QWhere does the company stand on green issues?
A Energy efficiency is a key parameter for our engineers when designing new products and we also make products as recyclable as possible. Increasing our own day-to-day levels of recycling and energy efficiency is very important to us.
For example, we recently installed new energy-efficient heaters and sophisticated modern control mechanisms, which have reduced power consumption in our production operations by 30%. We have also installed a new lighting system in our warehouse and packaging areas, which has reduced electricity consumption by 85%.
Q Long term, where's the business going?
A We are committed to manufacturing here in the UK. And with the current weakness of sterling against other currencies, we're very glad to be manufacturing rather than importing. This gives confidence and stability of supply and prices to our customers which, in turn, gives stability to our business. We aim to continue to grow both organically and by acquisition.
Company name Lincat
Address Whisby Road, Lincoln, LN6 3QZ
Tel 01522 875555
Area of operation Worldwide
Products Prime cooking equipment, food transport/holding equipment, food display equipment
Brands Lynx 400, Silverlink 600, Opus 700, Opus Combi Steamers, Seal, Panther, FilterFlow
Market sectors All food service sectors including restaurants, hotels, pubs and cost sector
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