It has been said that looks aren’t everything, and this certainly seems to be the case when it comes to chilled serve-over units. Although the aesthetics of these units is important to the overall look of the shop, versatility and function are also key selling points for bakery retailers.

Bakers also look for temperature range, display features and storage facilities of the particular unit, explains Shop-Equip sales director Lee Noble.

He says one of the main considerations for bakers, particularly at this time of the year, is the ambient operating temperature of the unit. "A lot of the commercial refrigeration in the UK is really only designed to operate in ambient temperatures, up to 25C, so once we get to summer, it does tend to top that ambient temperature range unfortunately," he explains. "Unless the outlet has air conditioning or the chillers are kept away from any form of direct sunlight, it can cause problems. So it’s worthwhile for bakery retailers to double-check the ambient operating temperature of their cabinets."

Temperature, especially coming into the summer months, is also an issue Pentagram Group MD Stephen Steadman highlights. He says that although there are a great many chilled serve-overs on the market, and they may look the part, many of them are not achieving temperature within the cabinets. "It’s important to ensure that the cabinet purchased will achieve the temperature it’s meant to," he stresses.

In the current market, as bakery businesses are trying to develop and increase sales, Steadman says it’s not essential to spend a fortune on these types of units. However, there are some fundamental points that bakers need to consider. "It’s important that the products are displayed well, in a well-positioned cabinet, that is well-lit, and that really promotes the product; so as a consumer you’re seeing the product and not the chiller it’s in." He says you can achieve so much from effective positioning of the cabinets and making sure the units have a flow to them so the customer is being drawn to the right place. For example, hot food should not be located right inside the door, but towards the back of the shop.

Noble adds that a lot of manufacturers are now moving away from the typical white, grey and steel finishes, and incorporating timber effects onto the front fascias and end-panels to give more appeal to the units. Sales consultant Paul Fitch of The Jordon Group agrees that white and plain colours are now less in favour, whereas wood effect is becoming more popular, as he says it stands out more. "What’s also coming back in now is the use of square glass as apposed to curved," adds Steadman, "and retro designs are also quite popular at the moment."

New kid on the block

The Space Station is a new self-contained modular servery unit, which creates an instant trading platform. Flexible, portable and ready to use in minutes, the new innovation from catering solutions specialist Space enables businesses to sell hot and cold drinks, snacks and sandwiches, literally anywhere.
The Space Station is a secure, lockable trading platform, with a variety of different display options, which comes with built-in refrigeration, lockable cupboards, cash till and open storage.
MD Mike Mellor says it is the first time Space has made a ready-to-go solution. He says: "It’s available to buy or to rent, so it doesn’t tie up a huge chunk of capital outlay, and is ideal for any indoor retailing space."
The Space Station offers almost six metres of space to market and display products. It opens up to give ample working space to allow a smooth operation while trading, then closes into a compact, lockable unit to keep products secure when not in use.