Catering industry leader and managing director at catering supplies manufacturer Rexmartins, Wayne Phillips discusses the growing opportunities in outdoor dining and advises retailers on how to maximise their sales and avoid pitfalls in the category


ardening is no longer Brits’ top use of outdoor space. Relaxation, entertaining friends and family, and dining alfresco are

proving to be more popular garden pastimes than getting down and dirty with a trowel. In fact, 70% of homeowners are eating more in their own outdoor spaces [2016 UK Houzz Landscaping Trends Survey] and this opens up a huge opportunity for DIY, hardware and garden centre retailers. People are also choosing to eat outside all year round, not just in the summer. The multitude of gazebo options now available puts a stop to any concerns regarding the British weather and, with this, consumers are moving away from smaller ‘one season’ barbecues and are, instead, looking to invest in longer-lasting, more robust outdoor cooking equipment. TV cooking programmes are a contributing factor. Chefs, including Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein, are increasingly showcasing how to cook in the great outdoors and consumers have been quick to follow, opening up an expanding revenue stream for retailers.

18 DIY WEEK 21 JULY 2017

Display space If space in store is an issue, the convenience of the latest modular systems allow retailers to showcase the range in a size and layout to suit them. Everything from state-of-the- art barbecues, rotisseries, hobs, bottle coolers and sink units can be on show and, as many of these products are on casters, it’s relatively easy to set up an impressive catering combination. Customers will enjoy designing their bespoke outdoor kitchen and discussing how they can mix and match the modules to create their ultimate outdoor entertaining area. Displays of outdoor cooking equipment have the added benefit of providing in-store entertainment for customers and if your store has its own outdoor space, the option’s there to host cooking demonstrations and feed your customers while promoting the equipment.

Staff motivation New ranges in store can be a workforce motivator.

designated outdoor living consultants ie employees who know how to sell the units, will provide variety and additional training opportunities for employees.


Supply and service Shoppers have become increasingly better-educated, well-researched and more sophisticated in their requirements. In addition to aesthetics, many will be looking for equipment that is cost effective to run, such as those that use liquid propane gas (LPG), known to be more energy efficient than other gases. LPG can heat a large outdoor barbecue to full temperature in just six minutes, which will significantly reduce the cost of running compared to a traditional gas barbecue. A

further requirement is

longevity. The units should be built to last, so check the manufacturing quality and ideally look for 304 stainless steel equipment, as this won’t rust, is long lasting and easy to clean. For added reassurance, ensure all components come with at least a two-year warranty from the supplier, meaning your store won’t need to deal with any potential aftersales issues. As when buying a car or any other big-ticket item, customer service is of the upmost importance, especially during the after-sales period when the deal has been done. Retailers

can’t wait for trouble-shooting – any knowledge gaps need to be resolved instantly.

Most equipment suppliers offer the most premium sales experience but a top-notch aftersales service is essential to ensure that any potential problems are fixed and resolved as soon as possible. Retailers should research the aftersales element when choosing an equipment provider.

Assess how easy it is to communicate with the factory or supplier. Are all channels of communication open? How easy is it to speak with someone? Is there enough information on their website? The website should feature testimonials from customers as these are a great barometer of customer satisfaction.

Outdoor living is here to stay As the outdoor living trend shows no sign of slowing in the UK, people will continue to create a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors and to do that they are investing in higher quality outside furnishings and catering equipment. The time is now for retailers to take full advantage of the all year round outdoor living trend.

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