Equipment failure can strike at any time – Christmas included. Mark Wingett looks at the help available.

You’ve been planning for the festive season as far back as October, and now that it’s here your wine chiller has decided to pack up, just as the rush begins. To make matters worse the till is starting to make an odd whirring noise. And what’s that strange smell coming from the bake-off oven?

What do you do when faced with a potential disaster? Panic? According to suppliers and equipment associations, retailers should keep their cool and check their warranties and support packages, which exist just for such eventualities.

Nisa-Today’s group services trading controller Ian Legard advises: “We advise our members to contact their supplier as soon as a problem arises. Failing this, members may contact our central office for advice.”
Many equipment suppliers lay on support for retailers all year round, including the hectic Christmas period. Husky chief executive Geoff Thomasson says: “Husky sales and service phones are manned seven days a week. Anyone who has the appropriate warranty can call out our engineer using the normal Husky phone number. Husky are open exactly the same days as their customers.”

The Catering Equipment Distributors Association (CEDA) advises retailers to prepare early to minimise the chance of a fault occurring during the festive season.

A CEDA spokesman says: “All equipment should be on a preventive maintenance contract so arrange to get it serviced before the start of the busy season. If it is not on a contract at the moment then get it checked out by a competent company, for example, a CEDA member, and put it on a preventive maintenance contract for the future.”

He adds: “Retailers can visit the CEDA website – – to find out who their nearest CEDA member is as most will offer limited engineer cover to contract customers over the festive season.”
With a few weeks still to go before your store gets swamped, now is the perfect time to make those last-minute checks and ensure your yuletide goes without a hitch.

Be Prepared

Dave Newman, who runs three stores in East Sussex, says constant checks on store equipment can help prevent faults.

He says: “I try to do regular checks on the chillers and freezers, especially at this time of the year when the weather is changing and stores are starting to get busier. Making sure you also have warranties and guarantees for all equipment is essential, because if anything does go wrong, you’ll need them.”

David Brunt, who runs a Londis store in Birchess Head, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, says: “We talk to Londis about which equipment suppliers to use and those they pick supply units that are fully guaranteed, which gives peace of mind. If something does go wrong they also give us phone numbers that we can call during store hours to get engineers on site. Thankfully, we have never had a huge problem with breakdowns, and because we constantly check the equipment I hope it will stay that way.”

Panna Patel runs two c-stores in the Bristol area. She believes retailers must have back-up plans in place that cover all situations. She says: “Know your helplines and chose equipment suppliers that guarantee sending out help on the same day you report a fault. It can cost you a lot of stock and turnover if the faulty equipment is offline even for a couple of hours, so it essential to pick equipment and suppliers who are efficient and reliable.”