Middleby CEO Tim FitzGerald said the coronavirus will bring an “added uncertainty” to the first half of the year, but insisted the equipment supplier would remain focused on delivering initiatives that boost its profits.
Net sales at the company’s Commercial Foodservice Equipment Group increased 6% in the fourth quarter and 15% for the full fiscal year of 2019 over the comparative prior year periods.
Lower spending by restaurant chain customers from reduced domestic location openings proved to be a continuing headwind, but it is not the only challenge it has to contend with.
“The impact of the coronavirus will bring an added uncertainty impacting the first half of 2020,” said FitzGerald. “In the near term, we remain focused on targeted profit enhancement initiatives including facility consolidation, acquisition integrations, supply chain initiatives and other opportunities to leverage the portfolio.”
Although Middleby faced challenging market conditions in 2019, FitzGerald said the company was pleased with its accomplishments throughout the year.
“We continued to focus efforts on increasing profitability and realized margin expansion across the segments despite the impact of tariff cost increases. We are committed to long-term revenue expansion through the development of products focused on growing industry trends, investing in transformational technology initiatives and enhancing our sales and marketing capabilities.”
Middleby believes it is well-placed to take advantage of current trends and longer term growth opportunities in areas such as food delivery, specialty beverage, ventless cooking and ghost kitchens.
Said FitzGerald: “We are seeing significant interest in our recently launched Open Kitchen IoT solution and are in the process of adding new chain customers on this platform. We are also excited to be launching our new Middleby control, which will provide an intuitive and enhanced user experience on our most advanced products.
“We anticipate these investments will pay dividends as foodservice operators look for solutions to capture revenue opportunities associated with growing customer trends and to address issues of labor, facility costs, food safety and energy management.”