Foodservice Equipment Reports

The E&S Recovery Continues, MAFSI Data Shows

Equipment and supplies sales continued to grow at a healthy rate in the fourth quarter of 2011 according to the quarterly Business Barometer maintained by the Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry. The first quarter forecast and other data from the reps surveyed suggest the E&S market recovery will continue.

The overall index, a reflection of average percentage changes of reps’ sales for like lines versus the quarter prior year, rose 4.8% in the fourth quarter. That compares with a 4.4% gain in the third quarter ’11 and a record 5.7% increase in the second quarter last year. The growth was on top of a 5% gain in the fourth quarter of ’10.

Growth in the U.S. was an even stronger 5.3%, the group estimated, as the overall index was pulled down somewhat by another a second consecutive quarter of sluggish growth in Canada, where sales rose only 2.2%. Among the U.S. regions, the South and West posted strong 6.6% and 6% growth respectively. Sales increased 4.3% in the Midwest and Northeast.

Supplies and tabletop, categories which generally follow operator sales trends more closely that equipment or furnishings, posted strong growth. Smallwares sales rose 5.6% and tabletop 4.5%.  Equipment sales also rose 5.2%. The furnishings number was slightly negative at -0.3%. Sales of furnishings have been very strong throughout the recovery, which in the Barometer, began fourth quarter of ’10.

The numbers beat expectations; the reps had forecasted growth of 3.6% for the fourth quarter. They forecast a gain of 5.2% in the first quarter of ’12.

Other indicators in the survey also bode well for the first half of this year. The association said a strong 54% of reps report an increase in quotation activity, versus 21% quoting less. And 40% see more consultant activity compared with only 18% reporting less.

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