The great lockdown cook off – Yorkshire firm takes slice of pizza oven sales spike
A Pudsey metal fabricator is ramping up production of outdoor pizza ovens and indoor BBQ grills to meet demand for luxury home cooking appliances with support from Lloyds Bank.
Huey Group Ltd has seen a surge in demand for its Deli Vita outdoor pizza ovens, stocked by retailers including John Lewis, which the firm manufactures under licence, as homeowners spend on home improvements and gadgets during lockdown.
The firm has also secured the contract to produce a new range of Japanese style indoor grills, while it’s meeting businesses’ needs for hygiene essentials by manufacturing a standing soap dispenser for the first time.
Shifting its production helps the business to make up for cancelled orders for its bespoke catering projects, which has recently included transforming an old bus into a gin bar and converting a Fiat 500 into a mobile pizza kitchen. Its most popular catering product is a horsebox style trailer, often used by food and drink vendors at events.
These catering projects typically comprise half its overall sales, but its order book disappeared overnight due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Huey Group turned to Lloyds Bank to secure £45,000 as part of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). It follows the bank helping the firm to quickly get off the ground when it started trading in January last year, by providing a £100,000 invoice finance line.
Martin Wilson, owner at Huey Group Ltd, said: “Many people are craving new cooking experiences at home to keep them entertained, while satisfying an appetite for restaurant quality food through lockdown.
“This is a vital revenue stream for us as our traditional business delivering bespoke catering facilities suffers from the blow Covid-19 has had on the events and hospitality industries. But we’re confident that demand here will pick back up, particularly as restaurants and pubs adapt to trading with physical distancing restrictions in place – by maximising use of their outdoor space.
“The support from Lloyds Bank meant we didn’t have to worry about money with the onset of the crisis, allowing us to plan ahead, diversify and boost the consumer appliance side of the business.”
Gary Whittaker, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “While consumers may be spending less money across the economy, many are buying more goods for their homes in lockdown life.
“Huey Group were quick to respond and adapt to make the most of this opportunity, protecting the firm while its catering facility business recovers. It’s a great example of a firm we’re supporting as we help Britain recover.”