SHORTLIST

Sustainability

Brita Professional
With a dedicated ‘Green Team’ inside its workforce to champion sustainability, Brita has placed the environment at the top of its business agenda. The company’s Filter Monitoring team works directly with distributors, providing CRM reports on water usage alongside removing old filters and offering free monthly water quality training to the catering industry. Brita released the Purity C Steam filtration system in 2017 and it contains recyclable plastic and reusable resin that delivers on its zero waste to landfill goal.

DC Warewashing & Icemaking Systems
DC’s new Optima series uses the latest technological advances to offer intelligent warewashing while minimising environmental impact and reducing running costs. The OD1450 double hood passthrough, for instance, lowers the temperature in the boiler when the machine is not in use for a prolonged period, while the system knows if one or two baskets are loaded and adjusts the washing parameters accordingly to save water and electricity. In addition, the steam heat recovery unit allows the machine’s rinse elements to be reduced by 4kW.

Hoshizaki
Hoshizaki extended its naturally-refrigerated Emerald Class range of ice makers this year and claims it is now the largest of its type in the world. With no fewer than 17 Emerald Class models across both IM (cube) and FM (flake) ice machines, distributors have access to a comprehensive range of environmentally-friendly machines. Every Emerald Class hydrocarbon machine uses less energy than its HFC equivalent, with the IM-240, which has a production capacity of 220kgs per 24 hours, 40% more efficient, for example.

Induced Energy
A long-time sustainability champion courtesy of its British-produced induction equipment, Induced Energy went one step further this year by introducing its QX range, a line of affordable hobs designed to make induction more accessible. The initial range comprises single and twin zones hobs, a single zone wok and a combination flat zone and wok unit, allowing distributors to specify quality energy-saving induction equipment without being priced out of the market. Induced Energy is committed to expanding the range with an induction fryer, griddle and pasta cooker.

Winterhalter
Winterhalter’s Connected Wash system brings new levels of efficiency to the warewashing industry by allowing users to monitor machine functions around the clock, from anywhere in the world. The immediacy of the system, which can be managed through an app, means customers can react quickly to warewash issues, minimising machine disruptions and increasing operational efficiency. Connected Wash also gives cost-optimisation tips to ensure machines are being operated in the most economical way possible and notifies customers when a detergent canister refill is due.

 

Service & Support

Caterparts
The expansion of its warehouse has led to a 30% increase in high bay storage at Caterparts, facilitating new working procedures and enhanced stockholding capability to benefit customers. This includes the addition of Fries rack systems, which are compartmentalised glasswashing racks that cater to all different glass types. Caterparts has developed a dedicated ‘measuring guide’ that is to scale to help customers select the correct basket size, while a focus on social media has led to Caterparts widening its marketing activities.

Keith Elkington Transport
Keith Elkington Transport provides a valuable service to the catering equipment industry and has now launched a cleaning, service and equipment refurbishment package to enhance its one-stop-shop facilities. The benefit to the market is that the whole service from start to finish is handled by just one company. KET has also championed equipment consolidation on projects, ensuring all kit is damage-checked and positioned in the kitchen, while packaging is recycled, so that installers can focus on the job in hand.

Linda Lewis Kitchens
The move to new 13,000ft2 premises has allowed LLK to invest in a fully-equipped demo kitchen. As well as hosting monthly sales training days, the facility has given distributors the chance to bring in customers and trial equipment before they buy, while the appointment of a full-time development chef has lent further credibility to the set-up. LLK has also launched its own range of living flame and wood-fired ovens to service an area of the market it felt it was not catering for.

Meiko
Meiko prides itself on having one of the most comprehensive service divisions in the industry and it has grown that to more than 40 engineers this year in a bid to provide rapid support to customers. An emphasis on technical support, underpinned by its unique 3- and 5-year ‘No-Bills’ guarantee and the appointment of personnel to drive machine specification, has given dealers added assurance that if a customer’s machine does need repairing or a part replacing, the manufacturer will take responsibility and ensure the process is painless.

Welbilt
Following its global rebrand, Welbilt has prioritised dealer support in the UK, especially in terms of after-care and service improvements for its Convotherm brand. Significant investment has gone into training its in-house Merrychef engineers on Convotherm service and it now has more than 30 directly-employed engineers capable of servicing both brands. An emphasis on providing distributors with improved product and sales information led to the launch of Welbilt Masterclasses, which distributors can attend at any of one of six sites to build their knowledge.

 

Light Equipment

Craven
Craven continues to fly the flag for British manufacturing with a range of trolleys, shelving and racking for all types of catering businesses. With the company close to reaching 60 years in business, it has installed new robotic manufacturing technology to drive efficiencies and enhance its bespoke solutions offering, thereby creating new sales opportunities for distributors in the process. The addition of new personnel has strengthened customer engagement, while investment has been made in providing distributors with improved sales and product information material.

Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM)
After securing UK master distributorship for the high-end Pujadas cookware and buffet display range, FEM has invested in launching the brand through its UK channel network, including the development of online and printed dealer support material. It has ensured the full range is available from stock on next-day delivery to the dealer market and encouraged hands-on experience by taking extensive samples to key dealer training events and exhibitions. Distributors at this year’s CESA LET Forum voted the brand’s Cubic buffet line the best product at the show.

Fracino
Coffee machine manufacturer Fracino has ramped up the level of support it provides to dealers this year, with investment in promotional merchandise and a package to help distributors maximise exhibition sales opportunities among the collateral on offer. This is all underpinned by a £250k expansion of the company’ headquarters, which has led to the launch of a bespoke Technical Training Centre of Excellence for distributors’ service engineers. The addition of a third production line at its plant has also enhanced capacity and created room for new product development.

Jestic
The launch of an expanded development kitchen at its premises in Kent has provided Jestic dealers with a purpose-built space to train and enhance product knowledge. It is also a facility where distributors can bring customers and experiment with new equipment, including a growing portfolio of light wares. New this year are the Kodiak mixer from Bear Varimixer, which purports to improve ergonomics and hygiene, and the Vitamix Aerating Container, which is able to quickly infuse air into a mix without separating or cutting through ingredients.

Grande Cuisine
Grande Cuisine has made it its mission to provide dealers with solutions that combine practicality and efficiency in order to keep chefs 100% happy. This has led to the company introducing a series of new induction equipment to the UK this year, including the multifunctional Adventys BRIC 3000 single ring unit, which makes swift work of searing meat, braising and boiling. The Adventys Lite, meanwhile, provides a solution where space is tight and runs off a 13A socket for added flexibility in commercial kitchens.

 

Heavy Equipment

Charvet
Charvet has made further investment this year in strengthening support for partner distributors and reinforcing its 100% indirect sales model, including additional technical back-up and training and dedicated CAD resources. The company has also moved to fill gaps in the market, which has led to the launch of an affordable six-burner range under its Charvet One brand and the creation of a multizone induction unit. Combining four independent induction hobs set under a one-piece glass top, the hobs can be operated alone or ‘sequentially regulated’ for maximum flexibility.

Electrolux Professional

Electrolux’s green&clean rack type dishwasher hit the market this year and it was supported by a raft of incisive sales materials to help dealers maximise business. This included cost and energy-saving calculators, giving distributors a transparent and tangible method of demonstrating the machines’ bottom line impact. The delivery of extensive distributor training sessions at Electrolux’s Centre of Excellence provided dealers with further technical understanding, while a £6m investment in new product development also led to new cooking and refrigeration equipment being released.

 

Maidaid Halcyon
The release of the new Evolution Minirack range and RX series of rack conveyors, combined with the addition of integral drain pumps on ice makers, reflects Maidaid’s commitment to listening to distributors and responding to the energy efficiency demands of the market. Monthly dealer sales and technical training has also been supported by an improved next-day delivery service and additional marketing collateral, including a special operational training manual, which is now on its second reprint, and ice machine hygiene awareness labels to prevent the contamination of ice.

 

MKN
Ongoing investment in centralised production processes has boosted the productivity and efficiency of MKN’s operations, improving the service level for distributors deploying its equipment and reducing delivery times. Specialist dealer training and workshops have been carried out at its UK headquarters to improve partner knowledge and educate the market on new innovations within its portfolio, including its FlexiCombi steamer. This appliance combines two cooking chambers within a single unit to deliver high levels of efficiency and ergonomics for commercial kitchens.

Retigo
A renewed focus on the UK market has seen Retigo widen its distribution network, enhance dealer resources and appoint dedicated service partners over the past 12 months. It has also increased its spare parts availability to its highest level ever for the UK market and stepped up partner engagement by running regular dealer meetings and training sessions. This has all been underpinned by the roll-out of its fifth generation of Vision combi ovens, which comprises six product sizes with improved humidity control and steam generation.

 

Business Development

Foster Refrigerator
Foster brought augmented reality to the catering equipment industry this year through a smartphone app that helps dealers articulate the key features of its +stayclear condenser by giving users a unique view of the inner workings of the system. The tool illustrates the effect that such technology can have on the performance of equipment in a completely interactive way. The refrigeration manufacturer also redeveloped its online portal for dealers, producing a user-friendly platform rich with information, including dynamic specification sheets and Ecodesign details.

Hobart
Hobart Warewash officially rolled out its Focus Plus 5 dealer platform this year following extensive conversations with almost 200 distributors on what it should entail to drive their businesses forward. Focus Plus 5’s functionality, which is all accessed via a bespoke dashboard personalised with current trading data and admin support for each site, enables partners to search and compare machines, and access sales support material packages. The investment has seen dealers receive enhanced product support and business development tools alongside tangible commercial benefits.

IMC
The integration of fellow Middleby Group business Britannia Kitchen Ventilation has led to IMC transforming its factory and introducing new efficiencies to bolster capacity. New state-of-the-art machinery has reduced production time and resulted in a 60% improvement in productivity, which has translated to improved service for dealers. IMC also has an electrical department to test the lighting and control systems of ventilation units, thereby bringing what was an outsourced service in-house, while the launch of new bottle cooler lines has given dealers extra product choice.

Precision Refrigeration
Precision has grown its engagement with dealers over the past year, which is reflected in the volume of prestigious projects it has been involved with. The creation of a Revit BIM configurator, following conversations with business partners, now offers kitchen houses complete flexibility when planning its refrigeration into kitchens given there are 12,000 different standard configurations in its range. Additionally it has maintained its high rate of product development, with the latest version of its compact undercounter achieving an A rating for energy efficiency.

RH Hall
RH Hall has increased support for dealers over the past year through product testing, menu development and training, as well as making investments in its factory to grow its bespoke solutions offering. The company expanded its Crown Verity range of professional BBQ systems, providing a complete solution for dealers with customers that want to take their kitchens outdoors. To support this push, RH Hall ran a series of dealer roadshow events and secured product endorsement from the Craft Guild of Chefs.

 

Training & Education

Carpigiani
This year has seen Carpigiani create the world’s first ever dedicated gelato training programme for foodservice professionals. As part of the launch, the company has invested heavily in adapting its showroom and development kitchen in Park Royal, North London. Working closely with dealers, the facility has been developed to feature multiple workstations, each containing state-of-the-art technology and the very latest in gelato equipment as well as a range of visual and audio technology to enable instructors to teach the modules effectively.

First Choice Group
The relocation of First Choice’s business to a new multi-purpose-built facility has provided the company with the impetus to take customer support to new levels through investment in new personnel and automated stock management technology. Additionally, the firm has expanded the level of training offered by technical division Combico and increased the level of stock it holds from a number of major catering equipment manufacturers. The net result of this transformation is a faster and more efficient service for dealers and engineers.

Lincat
The implementation of Lincat’s Select Partner Programme has brought a new level of structure to the way the brand manages key partners providing a full turn-key commercial kitchen solution, increasing sales of Opus 800 equipment for all parties in the process. Investment in new sales and marketing tools to facilitate business is best illustrated by the launch of a series of product training videos that are designed to make it easier for dealers to demonstrate how end users can get the most from the brand’s combi steamers.

NCEC
The National Catering Equipment Centre was set up this year as a centre of excellence for the catering industry and features equipment from all of Nisbets’ own-label brands as well as products from third party manufacturers. The facility has been designed to be used by dealers and consultants, with an in-house development kitchen and training rooms providing a place for learning and menu development. Distributors visiting the NCEC are able to see the latest equipment from more than 40 brands in one place.

Rational
The roll-out of more compact models from its product range, coupled with the launch of Connected Cooking 2.0, which places Rational at the forefront of kitchen digitisation, has provided distributors with significant new growth opportunities this year. The manufacturer has also doubled the size of its UK headquarters, creating two fully-equipped demonstration kitchens, conferencing rooms and, most importantly, a dedicated technical training centre for engineers. This facility will allow more product training and service classes to be delivered to UK partners.

 

DISTRIBUTOR CATEGORIES

Distributor of the Year – North of England

CHR Equipment
CHR uses the latest induction equipment to reduce energy costs for customers. The Preston-based distributor is constantly looking to push the boundaries with its design of bespoke Eco Chef cooking suites. It always pulls out all the stops to ensure that a project is finished on time and offers its customers bespoke training and back up. Its high quality is demonstrated by three of its newbuilds in 3 years being awarded a Michelin star in their first year of opening, including Moor Hall restaurant in Aughton, Lancashire.

Crosbys
Newcastle distributor Crosbys has completed prestigious and varied projects this year including the two Michelin star restaurant The Raby Hunt (installed in an incredible 2 day window), Hotel Indigo in Durham, The Beaumont Hotel in Hexham, and Fenwick’s retail store in Bracknell. Immense recent investment comprises increasing its projects team, van fleet and overhauling its website. Being awarded Select Partner Status by Lincat, and adding over £1m spend through ENSE partners evidences this growth. Plus it has built a development kitchen for chefs with partner Delifresh.

GastroNorth
GastroNorth’s soaring 2017 was headed by its £150,000 investment in its restaurant-standard onsite demonstration kitchen, the GastroLab. This provides great training and development opportunities, hosting workshops, demonstrations and menu development, all free of charge to its clients. The Gateshead distributor has completed a record high volume of over 300 projects this year, including the CEDA Grand Prix Award-nominated £3m Glasgow College refit. This inspired the firm to expand its project management team, take on an operations manager and new engineering and design apprentices.

RDA
Restaurant Design Associates has transferred management to the founders’ three children, with each one looking after the three core departments of the business – design, commercial and operations. This has allowed for the development of an ambitious 5-year growth plan. As well as being accredited the new ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Standard, and ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Standard, it has invested in additional staff, including an office administrator, a business development manager, and a graduate junior designer. To mark its 10th anniversary it completely refurbished its head office.

Sylvester Keal
Grimsby-based Sylvester Keal has had a flying year for projects and has scrutinised every aspect of its business to take it to the next level. This has resulted in appointing a warehouse manager to oversee its 10,000ft2 catering equipment and supplies warehouse and investing in a business coach to embrace organisational strategies and assist staff. Further investments include sales and service team software packages, engineers going paperless, and a new vehicle fleet. It ensures it listens to customers’ feedback and embraces what they have to say.

 

Distributor of the Year – South of England

ABDA Creative Design and Build
It’s been an outstanding year for ABDA, with turnover and profit increasing, partially due to four new key staff members having a significant positive impact. One of its biggest contracts has been a run of projects with DoubleTree by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inns, delivered to an exceptional standard. Currently refurbishing its Northampton headquarters to support its recent growth, the distributor has invested in its staff training programme to ensure that the design team are at the highest BIM standards and able to exceed customers’ requirements.

Chiller Box
London’s Chiller Box continues to provide an on call 24/7 service for its clients pre, during and post project to allow clockwork-like delivery, including quibble-free rectification. This year’s satisfied customers include City law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner in conjunction with Lexington Catering, and London Business School’s Old Marylebone Town Hall, a project which was delivered on time, on budget and to the high quality expected by the client. Furthermore the distributor has invested in a new mobile friendly website and IT systems.

Dentons
Dentons has continued to grow its existing group business in tough economic times. It has created a staff training programme on various manufacturers’ product lines, while embracing new technology within live projects. The London-based distributor listens to customer requirements and improves upon its service wherever possible. Recent expertly-delivered projects include Honest Burgers’ Ealing branch, a complete refurbishment of Indian Moment in Battersea Rise – the fourth restaurant by the award winning Abdul Brothers, and pizza specialist Franco Manca’s outlets in Reading and Oxford.

KCCJ

KCCJ has continued its massive workscope on Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium, the distributor’s biggest ever project. Within this it has been tasked with designing a unique efficient drinks distribution system. Along with other recent projects such as a 2-year outfit of a major London media company, this has meant the Kent-based distributor has doubled in size to 30 staff and opened a Tottenham office, along with establishing new marketing and sales support divisions. Other investments include in training and software, particularly for the CAD team.

TAG Catering Equipment
TAG moved into new premises in Stevenage to manage its growing portfolio, including a recent installation at Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant Ella Canta on Park Lane. Service is at the heart of the firm, with a new in-house engineer training facility, a van fleet roll out and a trainee engineers scheme. Often called out to solve unusual technical faults, TAG understands that human input is the best way of scheduling the correct engineers, and has introduced walk-round visits for critical customers to predict faults before they develop.

 

Distributor of the Year – Rest of the UK

Bunzl McLaughlin
Armagh-based Bunzl McLaughlin had a new 70,000ft2 permanent headquarters constructed this year, including 30,000ft2 of office space. Supplying to firms in the North and South of Ireland, the distributor boasts over 3,500 core items in stock available for next day delivery and access to over 50,000 products from the world’s leading manufacturers. With five sites across the Armagh region comprising two manned facilities and three storage units, Bunzl McLaughlin has seen its business grow year on year and has further ambitious expansion plans.

HB Catering & Refrigeration
Swansea’s HB Catering & Refrigeration has had a stellar year, completing major projects including Elevens Bar & Grill in Cardiff for S A Braine & Co, a venue owned by football megastar Gareth Bale, and serveral Porthaven Care Homes. One of the biggest kitchens and bars for the distributor was in zipline experience centre Zip World in North Wales, which demonstrated its turnkey project expertise. It has also established its own fabrication facility, and for 2 years running has won CEDA technical awards.

Instock Group
It has been an extremely busy year for Aberdeen-headquartered Instock with the continued integration of Jazzpower, the Devon-based distributor it bought. Furthermore it purchased a bespoke fabrication company in the central belt of Scotland which it has expanded to offer its own fabrication, counters and canopies in house. The run of buyouts continued in October with Pride Shopfitting, now known as Pride Commercial Interiors. Major projects included two kitchens at Boclair House for Manorview Hotels, the new Days department store in Carmarthen and Hamilton racecourse for Sodexo.

JD Catering
2017 has been the year of innovation for JD Catering. The Cookstown, Northern Ireland-based distributor branched out into pizza oven brick supply, as it wanted to solve the problem of bricks being cracked in transit. Furthermore, it added two more strings to its bow, buying out a local motor maintenance company to be able to offer repair and maintenance of commercial catering motors, as well as launching a sister venture called SpaceBank to provide catering equipment storage, particularly useful during fit-outs.

Shine Catering Systems
Shine has increased its logistical and resource capacity management in order to tackle an influx of work. The Newport distributor introduced a full Enterprise Resource Planning tool to enable greater efficiencies in back office processes, as well as a unified quality, environmental and safety management system in preparation for ISO45001. Recent investments in its fabrication factory reorganisation, include a new control system for the laser cutter, new press brake and new sheet handling cassette system costing £250,000. Additional skilled staff have met customers’ high expectations.

 

Distributor of the Year – Project Management

Court Catering Equipment
Court Catering Equipment’s project management skills were tested this year with over 27 educational projects of varying complexities successfully completed over the summer. At St Paul’s School in Barnes the London distributor had to switch the ventilation contractor and manage a late design change to replace all the servery counters, while for Thomas’s School Battersea, one of its largest ever primary school schemes, it specified energy efficient equipment wherever possible. Project manager communication with all the main and M&E contractors was key to each project’s success.

Garners Food Service Equipment
Garners Food Service Equipment has really ramped up its education sector work, completing 30 school outfit projects over the last 12 months. Garners has assisted existing schools with bringing their aged catering facilities up to date, as well as new-build academies looking for high-grade kitchens that will last. On top of the public sector, the university market has boomed for the company too. The distributor has also completed 10 casual dining restaurant projects since taking on a dedicated account manager in April last year.

Gratte Brothers Catering Equipment
Gratte Brothers has come out on top after handing over nine Whitbread projects in the space of 5 weeks, performing a fine balancing act to ensure on time and on budget handover. A major £155,000 project at The Ritz was also finished on time, including having to unexpectedly demolish an unstable wall. The Stevenage-based distributor renovated its own offices, and invested in 3D modelling software to increase project clash detection. Setting up an online service and maintenance package, its engineer systems are now paperless.

IFSE
IFSE’s project management expertise was boosted this year with the addition of Noel Curley. Even before his appointment, the Croydon-based distributor was impressing with large outfits including Epsom and St Helier Hospital, won due to outstanding design and innovative use of space. Other recent major undertakings include for fashion retailer ASOS’ offices in London, transforming the quick service facilities with a larger kitchen and four bespoke servery areas. Furthermore it helped the NEC exhibition centre in Birmingham to overhaul its catering offerings.

Inox Equip
This year Inox Equip has completed an incredible 56 projects and is continuing to grow its London portfolio, particularly in contract catering. Key highlights included a roll out for contract caterer Amadeus in Belfast and a full turnkey project at Compton Verney Art Gallery. The distributor defines a successful project as being completed on time with a quality finish, training and a happy client. It has increased its back of house support team and reorganised its Buckingham head office to provide a more conducive working environment.

 

Emerging Distributor of the Year

Apeiron
Apeiron has continued to grow this year, at around 20% up on last year’s turnover. This is partly due to doubling its appliance sales. Service is at the core of the firm, working closely with Rational as the service partner for Hampshire and Dorset and becoming a Frima service partner too. Adding three new engineers to cover the Hampshire area, the firm has updated all its vans and vehicle stock to constantly improve its first time fix rate, as well as installing service call handling software.

Core Catering Maintenance
In its fifth year of business, the Gateshead-based kitchen equipment and repair specialist has continued its success. One major series of projects this year was to install Synergy Grills in four outlets of growing North East England pub and hotel group, Proud Inns. Core focuses solely on the North East region and has quickly built up a large customer base, including hotels, football stadiums and hospitals. Offering service contracts, preventative maintenance and full kitchen installations, it focuses on training and re-investment to meet its customers’ needs.

iFour Hospitality Design
iFour has had an extremely successful second year in business, growing by 50% and working with a number of Michelin-starred chefs. This year it has started producing its own custom cook lines. The growth has enabled the distributor to invest in new staff members including projects assistants, and has launched a southern office to manage London projects. Following the London Bridge terror attack, the firm even paid for engineers to go to a client’s site to get the restaurant back in business within 24 hours.

Indigo Catering Equipment
In just 3 years Hailsham-headquartered Indigo Catering Equipment has already doubled in size. Owners Christian Barnes and Andy Booth have been busy training new staff and focusing on turnkey projects, project management and consultancy. As of 2017 the distributor even offers a bespoke kosher kitchen service. Specialising in restaurants, hotels and kitchens in schools and universities, the firm delivered one recent local university project in just 4 weeks. More school refits and projects for a London restaurant chain are also on the slate.

United Hygiene & Catering Equipment
Having been in business for less than 2 years, United Hygiene & Catering Equipment has already passed some significant milestones. This year it was admitted to buying group Cedabond’s ranks and has already started up a hygiene division, offering sanitary collection services to operators in the distributor’s local North East area. MD Andrew Husband is no stranger to the industry and is using his experience from his time at Alliance Disposables and Brakes Group to provide a comprehensive range of equipment through its user-friendly website.

 

Digital Initiative of the Year

Catering Appliance Superstore
Catering Appliance Superstore has spent this year focusing on the enrichment of its online product catalogue to ensure its customers see as much information as possible about an appliance to make an informed purchase. It is also putting in the groundwork for a substantial launch of innovative new web services next year. These initiatives are paying dividends with the Kendal-based distributor on course for its first £20m+ turnover year. In fact it has recorded significant growth year on year since first trading online in 2010.

GastroNorth
GastroNorth’s new restaurant-standard development kitchen, GastroLab, has its own digital platform to allow users to learn about the facility and book into upcoming events. The distributor has also introduced its own digital project management system which has helped to improve efficiency by closing the circle on communication between admin, designers, project managers and installation engineers, when working remotely. Additionally it has increased its online social media presence and use of videography to allow it to promote its message in a modern and efficient way.

Grey Simmonds
Essex-based distributor Grey Simmonds has really embraced the digital world this year, as it has introduced an immersive aspect to its design capabilities. With 3D software already set up, the firm has pushed its capabilities further with full 360° walkthroughs of its designs. These can be viewed on devices such as tablets, laptops, mobile and VR headsets. This means end users can view their prospective kitchens instantly wherever they are, and also makes understanding designs easier than their 2D counterparts.

Lloyd Catering Equipment
Keeping at the cutting edge of technical development has been a key focus for South Yorkshire-based Lloyd Catering Equipment this year. The distributor has developed a new room-scale virtual reality system which is helping its designers and clients to test the functionality and workflow of a design prior to installation. The system uses a combination of movement and headset tracking within an area to accurately simulate moving in the virtual environment, allowing the user to move freely around a design in a natural and intuitive way.

RDA
Restaurant Design Associates has welcomed cutting edge technology into the company, introducing a virtual reality capability with headset and tablet compatibility, allowing end users to see a full 360-degree view of 3D visuals. Furthermore it has launched an online client portal through its website which allows clients and contractors to access designs, visuals and costs wherever they are in the world. Additional IT infrastructure investment for software and hardware is ensuring the distributor is well equipped to deal with its growth plan.

 

Service & Maintenance Provider of the Year

Crystaltech
Servicing specialist Crystaltech increased its engineer team by 30% earlier this year and expanded its training facility in its Essex headquarters. The £30,000 investment has doubled its floorspace and increased capacity for specialist in-house engineer training services. MD Derek Maher understands the importance of face to face communication and each year visits his engineers across the country to ensure all training and accreditations are up to date and to maintain consistency in operations. The company now has technical resources to detect the most obscure warewashing issues.

Flowrite
Refrigeration and air conditioning specialist servicing company Flowrite has developed its 24/7 scheduling system including linking documents electronically directly to work requests and asset information through the use of PDAs and automated emails to notify of fault resolutions. Its remote monitoring product has allowed it to provide real time information about the operating parameters of customers’ equipment. A new van fleet has been designed by its own engineers and a new training room at its Maidstone head office houses regular staff training courses.

Hatherley Commercial Services
Hatherley Commercial Services has maintenance expertise running through its DNA, with servicing comprising 65% of its business. The family firm ensures it home-grows engineering talent, regularly taking on new apprentices, including one recent joiner specialising in gas appliance installation. Underlining its training commitment, the company’s refrigeration engineer has just completed a course on hydrocarbon refrigerants. Plus it is keeping its engineers happy with a fleet of brand new vans recently delivered, while MD Kirstin Hatherley has recently been voted in as chair of CEDA’s Northern Region.

Lakes Catering Maintenance
Lakes Catering Maintenance underwent a major rebrand this year, developing a corporate identity that is more inclusive of the company’s entire service proposition. A revamped website has also been created, detailing the extent of its offering and its successes serving local restaurants, schools and hotels in Cumbria and North Lancashire. The new look has been accompanied by an investment in enhanced design and installation capabilities, which are complementary to the flagship kitchen maintenance and repair work that the business has built its foundations on.

Marren Group
A £1.8m investment in new premises has been one of the highlights of Marren’s year, capping a period of expansion that has seen the number of directly-employed field service engineers increase to more than 60 and allowing it to cover all parts of mainland Britain. A focus on growing spare parts stocks to ensure a higher first-time fix has bolstered service levels, with the company now implementing a daily van stock replenishment policy and running weekly in-house training classes on all of the specialist equipment it maintains.

 

HEADLINE HONOURS

Distributor of the Year – Nationwide

Advance Group
Chain outfit expert Advance Group has had a record-breaking year, posting its highest ever turnover of £18m. Part of the reason for its popularity with major high street names such as Pizza Union and Leon is its bespoke asset management system, IntEquip, which tracks over 30,000 pieces of equipment tracing as far back as 20 years. This is the backbone of Advance’s recently launched Smart Kitchens package, a lifecycle kitchen solution which covers the design, installation, maintenance and asset management of casual dining group kitchens.

Airedale Catering Equipment
The Airedale Group has had a hugely busy 12 months, bringing yet another business into the fold in the form of installation specialist Sleaford Catering Services, which merged with the Airedale Technical Services division. New MD Paul Woodford, promoted from sales and marketing director, has helped to drive the overall group turnover up to £42m, with Airedale Catering Equipment alone bringing in £28.7m. Major projects this year have included the spectacular Commission for Drake & Morgan at Heathrow’s Terminal 4.

C&C Catering Equipment
C&C Catering Equipment continues to go from strength to strength, growing its profits by 17.3%. It has invested heavily in its staff and systems during the past year, including adding a new project manager to cope with its increasing large scheme work. The distributor has demonstrated its project expertise at Google’s London offices, Everton Football Club’s training ground in Merseyside, the five star Ampersand Hotel in Kensington, Hewlett Packard’s base in Erskine, Scotland and First Choice Group’s new headquarters in Cannock.

Space Group
Space Group’s storming year means it has invested in six new project/account managers across the UK to improve its coverage and account support network. It has completed the full interior fit out and demonstration kitchen at the new National Catering Equipment Centre in Bristol and a full turnkey fit-out at The Hut Group in Warrington, which it turned into a video case study. Furthermore it introduced regular industry update sessions for staff and invested in the latest visualisation rendering software to deliver high quality walkthroughs to customers.

Vision Commercial Kitchens
Vision has gone overseas this year for the first time, working on a Silver Sands resort in the West Indies, plus undertaking design and specification work for clients in Norway and Doha. At home, the distributor worked on its biggest project to date, outfitting nine restaurants at The Ned Hotel in London. Implementing a whole new sales team in the light equipment category, the firm also invested in its service department. Furthermore it launched a new user-friendly website featuring sector sub-sites to specifically cater to different clients.