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Seven leaders from the catering equipment sector formally honoured

Posted in General News & Helpful Tips

Seven leaders from the catering equipment sector were formally honoured for the service they have given to the industry at the first physical Ceda Conference since the pandemic this week.

With delegates travelling far and wide for the two-day event in Harrogate, the distributor trade body took the opportunity to recognise individuals that have made a lasting mark on the industry as part of its Legacy Honours programme.

Each received a standing ovation as they were called on stage to receive their award from a selection of past Ceda chairs as well as current Ceda chair Kirstin Hatherley.


Bob Clifford was the microwave repair firm’s first salesman and became managing director in 1995. He enacted his vision to make Marren the go-to specialist for both sales and service. Being a nationwide operator was key to delivering this, and the acquisition of CES Microcare in Scotland made that a reality. Today, Marren has over 100 employees.

CEDA director general Adam Mason said: “Within Marren and throughout the industry, Bob is well-known as an unassuming, good-humoured and good-natured gentleman, always happy to share his knowledge, experience and wisdom.”


Peter Galliford began his industry career in the 80s for Garner Merchant in the design and planning department, then briefly working for Hobart before co-founding Mechline in 1991. He is the only remaining co-founder still serving at Mechline and remains a font of knowledge on technical commercial catering matters.

Past chair Jack Sharkey praised: “His visionary perception, calm assured management style and open-door policy have made Peter a well-respected leader throughout Mechline’s long history. But Mechline, whilst a huge success story, is only a part of the legacy that Peter has built in the industry.

“A vault of knowledge and information, Peter became and remains one of the go-to people for advice and guidance. He has given of his time and expertise to many working groups on; hygiene, safety, water savings, food waste and laws and regulations, all of which have spawned guidance documents and codes of practice used widely across the industry.”

Mr Galliford said: “I’m so very proud and honoured. This wouldn’t be possible without my beautiful, giving wife or my colleagues within Mechline that make it all possible. For all the personal ambition, it’s so important that for all of us we had a great team around us, most especially at home.”


Keith Warren had his first taste of the catering industry working for Reed Publishing for 18 years on the Catering Update and Catering & Hotelkeeper titles. He became director of what was then CESA in 2001 and over the next two decades has been instrumental in positioning the association as an authority on technical and legislative issues. As well as liaising with government, Mr Warren has also overseen the association’s rebranding to FEA.

Mr Sharkey said Mr Warren had led the FEA “to many great achievements and through many challenging times, with drive and commitment,” praising work to promote the industry, driving the sector forward and ensuring that its voice is heard in the right corridors.

Mr Warren said: “Thank you all. I wasn’t expecting that. I too have to thank a team, a fantastic team that we build on as trade association directors – for every chairman I’ve had the privilege of serving under and for all those FEA members over the years who’ve contributed their time voluntarily to the work that we seek to do.

“The secretariat can only do what we do, based on all of your input. I also have to thank the FEA team: Jocelyn, who’s our membership and events manager; Adam, who’s our marketing manager, and Sarah-Jane, who underpins it all with administration. It is genuinely a team effort and I would like that to be recognised tonight as well.”


Harry Hogan and Jim Doherty actually met through CEDA Conferences, while Hogan was with Jack Hogan Sales Scotland and the association’s Scotland and north east of England regional chairman, at the same time Doherty was MD of Excel Equipment, based in Cheshire. Together they created FEM in 1993, with the first supply partnership agreement being for Vollrath.

In 2018 the company celebrated 25 years in business and today it counts itself among the top 10 largest catering equipment companies in the UK. While Mr Doherty retired at the end of 2020, Mr Hogan continues as managing director.

Mr Hogan said: “It is a privilege to be nominated and I really appreciate the honour. I would like to say that my wife has been a great supporter over the years. My son Mark also works in the business, he’s a great support too and at some point I will be handing over to him.”

Mr Doherty added: “Thanks to all the Ceda members for this fantastic award and thanks to Harry for being a fantastic business partner for many years. And also thanks to my wife Sahira for putting up with me for so many years and still putting up with me in retirement!”

Both awards were presented by Ceda past chair Peter Kitchin.


Advance Group chairman, Steve Coates, founded the Dunstable-based company as an agency for servicing Litton and Toshiba microwaves in 1981. Over the next 40 years, the business has grown to become one of the largest and most successful in the sector and the Advance Group now encompasses importing, distribution, design, installation, project management and maintenance.

Having returned full-time to the business to help stabilise and guide it through the challenges of the last 18 months, Mr Coates recently reverted to his position of chairman.

He said: “I’d like to echo Peter and some of the other Legacy Award winners’ sentiments, behind every good man there’s a good woman and in my case that’s absolutely true as well. Felicity has been with me from 1981, in fact she was our first unpaid employee! She had a full time job and it was shift work, so I made the most of it. When she came home at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, she went into the third bedroom and did telesales. And in those days our marketing strategy wasn’t terribly comprehensive – we used to ring up pubs and say ‘do you have a microwave?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Would you like us to send a nice shiny silver sticker with our name on it?’ ‘Yes.’ And then the service calls came rolling in.”

He added: “I’d like to pay tribute for this award to all the people that have worked for Advance in the past that have gone on to work for other companies in the industry and done really well, and the current team for their continued support and getting us through that dreadful Covid period.”


Williams Refrigeration’s Malcolm Harling began his career in the catering equipment sector in 1991 as Falcon’s national sales manager until the time that parent company AFE Group acquired Williams. He has served as sales and marketing director at the firm since 2000 and remains one of the industry’s top experts on commercial foodservice refrigeration.

His career has seen him deliver some of the largest refrigeration contracts in the UK, including at Wembley Stadium with Shine Food Machinery and Le Cordon Bleu with Court Catering.

Past Ceda chair, Iain Munro, said: “He continues to lead with great skill, energy and drive. Malcolm has always ensured that Williams were dedicated and engaged Ceda partners, but it is his involvement with CESA/FEA that demonstrates his commitment to and passion for the wider industry.”

Mr Harling said: “Well I didn’t expect that! Thank you very much to everybody. I’ve had a wonderful career in this industry. I started life as a chef and I learned from the bottom up, and worked through a number of trades and companies, and finally with Williams. I feel blessed that I’ve had a lovely career and still will do, hopefully!”

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