CESA Conference 2015 is all about teamwork

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The 2015 CESA conference in London was a superb blend of foodservice industry insight and expert external opinion, says Michael Jones

The theme of this year’s Catering Equipment Suppliers’ Association (CESA) annual conference, held on 12-13 November in association with FCSI, the British Hospitality Association, CEDABOND and ENSE, was ‘Teamwork makes great business.’ Given the close proximity of London’s Wembley football stadium and a speaker programme including keynote addresses from Team GB’s Olympic sports psychologist Dr Steve Bull and FIFA World Cup final referee Howard Webb MBE, the sport/business analogies were prevalent throughout the day.

The conference was facilitated by BBC Newsnight anchor Evan Davis who, following introductions from CESA’s chairman Simon Frost CFSP and the chair of FCSI UK & Ireland, Andrew Etherington FCSI, kicked off proceedings with an update on the UK and world economy. A show of hands from attendees demonstrated the vast majority felt positively about the next five years for the UK economy. This was backed up by Davis’s assertion that, while the UK has “lived through the most volatile time in economics since the 1930s”, recent findings show national incomes are now back to their peak levels before the 2008 crash.

Davis also highlighted the steady rise in job creation and fall in unemployment as reasons for positivity, but stressed these were “weird times” economically and there are still “strong headwinds” for the UK to contend with. Of particular concern, cited Davis, “China and the rest of the world don’t look great” with the Eurozone, Britain’s biggest export market, stumbling and not currently “a driver for growth”.

Davis also stressed that “continued retrenchment” and “high government and household debt” were causes for concern, but continued low oil prices were acting as a “shot in the arm” for the UK economy, which he predicted would “chug along at a respectable rate” with growth at 2.4% in 2016 (compared to 2.5% in 2015).

There were also presentations from Martin Caraher of City University on ’Food trends and the possible impact on the environment’, while Dr Mike Walker, head of sustainable energy-using product at the UK’s Department for Energy & Climate Change, discussed an update on DECC’s Energy Efficiency Report.

Darren Byford, head of sales for public sector buying group, YPO, joined a panel session on ‘Sustainability in procurement’ with Walker and Duncan Ackery FCSI while Steve Loughton, EFCEM president, gave an update on the latest developments in Building Information Modelling (BIM).

Bernard Morauw, senior director of Architecture and restaurant design at McDonald’s International discussed ‘How a global brand delivers’. Morauw gave a fascinating insight into McDonald’s operations across 36,000 restaurants in 119 countries worldwide.

The brand employs 1.8 million employees and serves 69 million customers daily – 1% of the world’s population. A key tenant of McDonald’s global offering, which is otherwise flexible and customised to local requirements around the world, are the “non-negotiable” elements of “quality, service, cleanliness and value”, said Moraux.

According to Morauw, the “appetite for innovation is very high at McDonald’s,” including the requirements for more efficient foodservice equipment. “Innovation is really critical for us,” he said. “Anything that can cook faster or hold better is interesting to us. We look every day at new technologies.”

Away from the conference, The FCSI Sustainable Catering Equipment Award was won by Meiko for its vacuum waste disposal system Waste Star SC. FCSI singled out the product for the fact the unit could be retrofitted.

MKN gained second place for its SpaceCombi MagicPilot combi oven, described as having the full function of larger combi ovens but in a smaller footprint. Third placed was Brita for its Purity Steam water filter, awarded for its 100% recyclable materials.

The CESA Outstanding Service to the Industry Award went to Ian Garner, who retired as the MD of Hobart UK in 2014.

Michael Jones