Inside… Hobart Cooking Solutions

02/12/2015 - 07:50
In Cost Sector Catering’s series of Q&As with suppliers, we talk to Simon Merrick, director at Hobart Cooking Solutions.

Cost Sector Catering: What are the challenges and main drivers for your business and the equipment industry as a whole?

Simon Merrick: I think the main challenge all catering equipment manufacturers face is staying ahead of the game in terms of innovation and technology, plus keeping up with the fast-moving needs and requirements of operators.

Making equipment work harder and longer is now a necessity in most kitchens; we know this from the extensive research we carry out with an army of sites to gather valuable input when developing our range. Key drivers for kitchens are: ease of use, durability and equipment that is efficient to clean and maintain.

What are cost sector operators mainly looking for with respect to cooking solutions? And what are your bestsellers in this sector?

Schools in particular are looking for one piece of equipment that can prepare multiple menu items. Such equipment is also a driver when looking at energy savings. These multifunctional products, such as combi ovens – our Bonnet Combi range is one of our bestsellers in this market – are efficient, and easy to use and clean, which makes them very popular.

The Bonnet Combi has one of the fastest automatic cleans on the market, which saves operators time, water and chemical usage.

What advice are you offering operators?

The biggest piece of advice we can offer operators is to make sure they consider the functionality of the equipment they need as opposed to the price. If a machine can do more than one job in the kitchen, then cost of ownership can prove more cost-effective in the long run. We also encourage them to choose their supplier carefully to ensure they are offered good service pre, during and post-sale.

We are working alongside several high street chains helping them on initiatives ranging from increasing quality and production to lowering energy costs and improving cleaning. We pride ourselves on working with our customers to create long-term solutions together.

What trends do you see emerging? Where does your inspiration for NPD come from?

Smaller-footprint kitchens are definitely on the increase and have been for a while, so that is a trend very much here to stay. Our recent new product development reflects the need for less cooking and more dining space – the Compact Kitchen concept gives the ability to perform all the cooking functions in a space considerably smaller than a traditional kitchen, without compromising on performance.

If you had one wish for the next 12 months, what would it be?

It would be great if everyone making a decision on purchasing equipment took into consideration all the factors when buying a brand. Energy is supposedly on everyone’s agenda – however, capital cost is generally the driver on purchase decisions.

Cost of ownership is always cheaper over a period with energy-efficient models; for example, a machine with an auto-clean function can save over £700 a year against a machine without. Over ten years, that’s an amazing £7,000, meaning the machine has more than paid for itself in the savings.

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