Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

Catering equipment supplier serves up its new showroom

A Leicestershire supplier of catering equipment to the hospitality industry, ranging from tableware to ovens, has put the finishing touches to its new showroom and HQ.

It’s the third home in the county for Pro Foodservice Reps (PFR) during three years of ongoing growth in the number of international and domestic manufacturers it represents in the UK and Ireland.

There’s lots of space at its new base at Rolleston Lodge Business Centre in Billesdon, available by appointment only to trade distributors and operators looking for inspiration and advice.

Alongside the showroom are warehousing and offices plus a meeting room where the company can welcome its customer base of hotels, restaurants, cafes and indeed anywhere else that serves food and drink. It also supplies leading distributors including household names to caterers such as Nisbets and Bunzl Lockhart.

PFR has also relaunched its website to keep up with customer demand for the latest information from the factories they represent, and new content includes social media streams, brochures and media galleries.

PFR was established by co-owners Andy Piggin and Ross Gibson who previously worked together for over a decade before deciding to set up by offering an innovative new approach to the supply chain, a manufacturers’ ‘Rep Group’.

Andy, managing director, explains:

“We spotted the opportunity to establish a different model to the existing manufacturer-importer-distributor-customer route.

“We operate as the manufacturers’ representatives, outsourcing the sales role for the factories, giving them a route to market without us buying the stock. When we approached manufacturers, six of the first seven we asked said yes. It keeps the market price of the product down and also keeps factory overheads under control.”

The business began trading at Kibworth Business Park before relocating to Tugby when one manufacturer asked PFR to warehouse stock. When more followed 

Andy and Ross recognised they needed even more space, so relocated again to its new 2,500 sqft home in Billesdon.

The business now has six staff and Andy anticipates taking on another two in 2018:

“We currently represent ten manufacturers and are approached weekly by more. None of our brands compete and have similar customer bases, which means we can knock on one customer’s door with several relevant product ranges to offer.”

At two customers’ request, PFR is now reaching out into markets in Europe and the Middle East and Africa.

The 500 sqft showroom presents the front of house products of five manufacturers for whom Pro FoodService Reps is their UK office: French porcelain maker Revol; Mercer Culinary from New York; Chicago-based American Metalcraft tableware; and Baselite food warming lamps from California and the most recent addition, MealPlak, a division of the Revol Group.

Mark J Rees has been supporting PFR from the outset after partner Matt Vice was recommended to Andy. Mark J Rees provides its whole range of services to the company, including accounting, tax, VAT, forecasting, pensions and, though MJR Computer Solutions, IT support.

The international nature of PFR’s activities is well supported through Mark J Rees’ membership of the international accountancy network HCWA which means they have access to quality professional advice across the world.

Andy said: “It’s always ideal when someone comes highly recommended by good friends. Mark J Rees is absolutely great. Matt and his colleague Callum are both very personable and likeable.”

Matt said: “Professionally, it has been highly satisfying to help two excellent entrepreneurs turn an idea into a thriving business that continues to grow and extend its reach both at home and abroad.”

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