Foodservice Equipment Reports

Reps’ Sales Rose 4% First Quarter, MAFSI Reports

The recovery of foodservice equipment and supplies sales continued in the first quarter 2011, according to the latest Business Barometer from the Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry. Overall sales of like lines rose 4% versus first quarter of ‘10, with clear gains in all five regions and all four product categories. It is the second quarter the Barometer has been on the positive side of the ledger. Sales were up 5% in the fourth quarter ’10, which was the first quarterly increase since the fourth quarter ’07.

Equipment sales rose 4.2%, the strongest category, and sales of durable supplies were up 4%, tabletop 3% and furnishings 3.5%. Sales in the Northeast jumped a robust 7.8%. Perhaps the most telling number was a second consecutive quarterly gain in the West, the region that was most battered by the Great Foodservice Recession. Sales in the West rose 4.2% in the first quarter, following a 3.8% rise in the fourth quarter ’10. The South posted a 3.6% increase, sales in Canada rose 3.5%, and those in the Midwest were up 2.5%.

MAFSI also reported that reps are seeing more quoting activity (64%) and consultant activity (46%), up eight and 10 points, respectively, from the last quarter.

The positive MAFSI Barometer numbers come as several equipment-oriented public companies have also reported good first-quarter sales growth. Standex said sales at its Foodservice Equipment Groups increased 10.2% in the quarter versus year prior. Manitowoc Foodservice saw a 6.9% gain and ITW’s total Food Equipment Group, which includes retail products, said “organic revenues” grew 6.4%. On the other hand, the two supplies-oriented publics—Carlisle and Libbey—were flat and up less than 1% first quarter. Extreme winter weather and “weak demand” were cited as reasons. But in spite of flat supplies gains, it seems more than likely that the public companies will show their fourth consecutive quarter of increased blended sales. A complete look at the public E&S companies’ first quarter results awaits reports from Middleby and Rational North America.  

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