The 2018 CESA Conference saw record attendance and a programme packed with insight, reports Michael Jones
The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) is 80 years young this year. “We’ve come a long way in that time,” said outgoing chair of CESA Glenn Roberts, at the opening of the 2018 Conference, held at De Vere Cotswold Water Park on 15-15 November.
“We have to get ourselves future proofed. We have to adapt and evolve to stay relevant,” said Roberts.
Indeed the theme of the Conference, superbly moderated by BBC Business editor Simon Jack (pictured), was ‘Evolving in a disruptive environment’.
“Disruption has shaped every sphere of our lives. It is ubiquitous and accelerating,” said Jack, who gave the attendees, a record number for CESA, regular updates on the unfolding political backdrop of Brexit as a succession of UK cabinet members resigned and confusion continues to reign as to whether an exit deal will be reached at all with the European Union.
Insight and expertise
The first industry speaker to take the stage following Jack’s UK and global economic update update was Tony Sophiclides, strategic affairs director, UKHospitality, who addressed the 2017 merger of The British Hospitality Association and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers into one “unified voice”.
Sophiclides also addressed how the uncertainty of Brexit is affecting hospitality, the UK’s third largest employer with 3.2 million people and “the beating heart” of the country.
“The priority of UKHospitality is to secure a Brexit deal that delivers for future workforce and supply needs. Our mission is to reduce the cost of doing business responsibly and secure the potential for growth and investment,” he said.
Next, Paul Dickinson, director of food, Fuller’s Brewery, presented on his goal “to make Fuller’s famous for food” across their 210 pubs in the UK. A huge part of that process, said Dickinson, was through supporting the 162 head chefs and their kitchen teams from the top down.
“When you go into our kitchens, our chefs are proud. We look after them.” That in turn, said Dickinson, has a positive impact on customers. “When our customers see our chefs in the kitchens, our net promoter scores go through the roof.”
Millennial customers and a greater desire for diverse menu choices from consumers are, according to Dickinson, “driving many habits. 17% of central London pub goers are vegetarian/vegan. Having one veggie or vegan option on a menu is no longer enough.”
Perhaps the highlight of the conference was a series of presentations and a subsequent panel debate featuring Alberto Zanata, CEO of Professional Products at Electrolux, Nisbets’ group chief executive Klaus Goeldenbot and Parts Town’s CEO Steve Snower – moderated expertly by Jack.
The theme of an evolving customer base loomed large throughout. “Our business can only succeed if we create great experiences for our customers,” said Goeldenbot.
“Customers are demanding more. They want one source for all replacement parts. Manufacturers are looking to simplify and focus on their core manufacturing business,” said Snower. “Despite significant consolidation, strong and locally focused businesses that build relationships with customers will play a huge role in the marketplace for decades to come.”
Customers, said Zanata, “are not just looking at the ticket price any more, but the real running costs of an operation.”
According to Zanata, the “five key trends driving the foodservice market are consumer power, digitisation, sustainability, consolidation and a growing global middle class. We used to have ten-year plans. Now we plan for three years ahead and that already seems a long time. Agility is really key in this industry.”
Zanata also stressed the importance of businesses working sustainably during disruptive times. “Sustainability is not just about protecting the planet, but about treating people and profits in a sustainable way too,” he said.
Awards and recognition
The afternoon saw some fascinating presentations. Chris Hayward of Kantor Worldpanel and Stewart Sims of Caterlyst looked at the out of home consumer eating out market, which represents 405,823 sites in the UK; Phil Williams of EFCEM updated on his organisation’s crucial role during the political upheaval caused by Brexit; CESA’s Keith Warren addressed ‘The Brexit effect’ for the catering suppliers sector and Ross Carter of Fresh Montgomery looked at the rebranding of Hotelympia in 2019 and the Professional Kitchen Show in Birmingham in January.
At the end of the afternoon, the Rt Hon Lord Winston of Hammersmith’s keynote address tackled everything from the need to restoring faith in science to food scares and climate change.
At an evening gala awards dinner CESA’s Keith Warren was presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award, while the FCSI-judged Equipment award winner was Marco Beverage Systems for the MIX UC8 Boiler with three button front. The judges also highly commended Mechline Developments for the BaSix 300/400 hands-free push-front wash basin and Target Catering equipment for the TR+E induction range.
The CESA Foodservice Equipment Industry Apprentice Award winner was Emrys Hughes of PlasmaClean, while Rahul Rora of HKI was highly commended.
The CESA Training & Development Award went to Falcon Foodservice. McFT was highly commended.
Earlier in the day CESA bestowed its Order of Merit award to Howard Porter of BEAMA; Julian Edwards, chair of FCSI UK & Ireland; Stewart McKenzie of Hospital Caterers Association; William Baxter of Hospitality Action; Michael Hales of LACA and Matthew White of TUCO. Simon Frost of CESA also awarded the latest recipients of the CFSP qualification, noting that 531 industry professionals have now passed through the programme to achieve the qualification.
Pictured: Electrolux’s Alberto Zanata, Nisbets’ Klaus Goeldenbot, Parts Town’s Steve Snower and Simon Jack