The Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) and the Catering Equipment Distributors Association (CEDA) have written a joint letter to the UK prime minister asking for government support in the face of the “catastrophic impact” of Covid-19 on the foodservice equipment sector.
The letter has implored the UK government to provide “the same support” to the foodservice equipment industry as it has to the hospitality sector. In the letter, Keith Warren, chief executive of FEA and Adam Mason, director general of CEDA, state that the equipment supply industry has experienced a “catastrophic” decline in sales of 90-100% due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is “directly affecting its 10,000+ employees”.
“It is critical that there is total alignment between our sector and the hospitality operator sector,” states the letter. “This should include equipment manufacturers, distributors and importers, designers, dealers, service and spare parts companies. Only by doing this will there be the infrastructure, skills, and services to support current needs and support the regeneration of the industry when that time comes.”
The two associations are seeking an extension to the UK government’s furlough programme for the foodservice equipment supply chain, in line with any parallel development for hospitality industry operators. It is also hoping to secure “an immediate alignment with business rate support” as an eligible group.
Many foodservice equipment supply companies, state the organisations, are facing even greater financial pressure because their customers are withholding payment of debts – sometimes demanding nine months credit. FEA and CEDA are calling on the government to address this. “It is totally unacceptable if these businesses are receiving government support. It should be conditional to foodservice operators receiving furlough or business rate support that suppliers are paid to terms.”
As FEA and CEDA ascertain that, without a functioning foodservice equipment supply chain, the hospitality industry could suffer irrevocable damage. “Time is of the essence… Only with [this support] can our sector assist with the delivery of the equipment and services required to support the country through this crisis. It will also ensure that there will be viable companies with the vital skills and services that are essential to support recovery as quickly as possible.”
FEA’s patron, Lord Trefgarne, is personally sending copies of the letter to senior cabinet ministers including the chancellor and Rt Hon Michael Gove MP.