Foodservice Equipment Reports

Reps’ Sales Grew 3.8% In 4Q/’12; Forecast for 1Q/’13 3.6%

In spite of the uncertainty of the federal fiscal cliff late last year, manufacturers’ representatives saw sales of like lines grow 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with the same period in ’11, according to the latest Business Barometer from the Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, released last week. The reps forecast 3.6% growth for the first quarter of this year and expect annual growth in ’13 of 4.7%.

Quite a bit of regional variation is apparent in the numbers. Sales rose 5.4% in the Northeast and 4.3% in the South while reps in the Midwest and West managed only 2.8% sales growth. Canadian sales were up 3.2%.

Among the product categories, equipment sales rose 4.2%, durable supplies 3.6%, tabletop 2.8% and furnishings 2.2%.

Other measures in the MAFSI survey were also positive. The number of reps quoting more is double those quoting less, 44% to 22%. And 32% report more consultant activity versus 17% seeing less.

Michael Posternak, a principal at the New York-based rep firm PBAC & Associates, who oversees the survey for MAFSI, noted in his commentary a “highly enthusiastic” NAFEM Show and an industry that is “moving forward on solid ground.” But he also notes that the current federal government stalemate leading to sequestration is creating anxiety.

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