Ambach and Fuller’s go full steam ahead
When premium food-led pub chain Fuller’s selected Ambach as its kitchen equipment provider, it was because of the quality, durability and flexibility of the Chef 850 line.
It all started when Paul Dickinson joined Fuller’s Managed Inns as director of food six years ago with a mission to move the pub chain forward by evolving menus and kitchens alike.
Today, Fuller’s offers hundreds of unique menus, each characterised by their fresh, seasonal local dishes, which have been created with customer feedback in mind, prepared on the day and delivered to customers in one-of-a-kind environments, from ancient listed buildings to buzzing modern pubs.
The group’s spend on new kitchens has also trebled, and its criteria for specifying equipment has significantly tightened. The long list of demands that now has to be satisfied includes ergonomics, shelf-life and the ability to flex with space constraints.“The majority of our properties are listed buildings and they’re not template kitchens, so a big question we have to ask is ‘Is the provider flexible?’” Dickinson says, adding that some of the brand’s kitchens work for 14 or 16 hours, so the kitchen also has to be fit for purpose.
“If a piece isn’t working, the knock-on effect on the kitchen is massive. Most diners come in for 45 minutes to an hour, and the more people you can feed, the more money you’ll make as long as you can maintain consistency. The kit cannot let you down.”
Chef 850: complete configuration flexibility
Having worked with Ambach in previous roles, Dickinson was confident that the company would be able to rise to the challenge. And he hasn’t been disappointed with Ambach’s modular Chef 850 Line, which offers complete configuration flexibility through a range of over 150 operating modules.
In fact, since 2013, Ambach has carried out approximately 60 installations (a mix of full kitchens and one-off pieces) across Fuller’s 193-strong estate of managed pubs, with 15 more set to be completed by the end of 2018.
In many cases, Ambach has surpassed even Dickinson’s high expectations, not only by providing equipment in pieces and installing it on site in tough-to-access listed buildings, but by developing several pieces of kit especially for Fuller’s, which are now available to the company’s customers across the world.
“We have developed a high-performance fryer for Fuller’s, which was a modified version of a fryer from within our marine range, as well as redesigning some internal components and gas connections. We are listening to them as much as they are listening to us and we’re always looking for ways to improve our products,” recalls Maurizio Vianello, Ambach’s General Manager.
A departure from the norm
Although in many ways the relationship between Fuller’s and Ambach has been a departure from the norm for both companies (Ambach typically partners with luxury hotels and Michelin starred restaurants, and five-star hotel standard islands are not usually found in the kitchens of a UK pub chain), neither parties have looked back.
“The story with Fuller’s is very interesting. It may seem surprising because Ambach’s value proposition is usually aimed at international hotel chains and fine dining restaurants, but at the end of the day it is not that surprising,” says Vianello.
“Paul was able to clarify Fuller’s precise needs concerning the equipment, which does not always happen, and thanks to the clarification of the group’s needs and the business model they wanted to put in place, we were able to provide him with the right solution. Our business is not to work with people who just want to save money on equipment, but to work with people who want to invest to support their business model.”
Looking to the future, both Fuller’s and Ambach are excited about many more profitable years of working together. And as Fuller’s begins to place more focus on chef training and development with the growth of its Chef’s Guild, durable, high-quality, consistent equipment will be more important than ever.