There can be little doubt that the last few years at AGA Rangemaster have been far from easy. “It’s fair to say that the Group has undergone significant restructuring since the acquisition by Middleby four years ago,” says Iskender Diker, director of sales and marketing for Rangemaster, of the 2015 purchase by Illinois-based food service equipment giant.
“Now that this restructuring process is nearly complete, we are on a solid footing to increase our sales across all brands across all categories and, since last year, sales have started growing again,” he adds, commenting on AGA Rangemaster, which includes AGA, Rangemaster and Rangemaster Sinks, which now has a combined annual turnover of £135million.
Diker, 42, who joined Rangemaster in October 2017, says the company has “rationalised the range and pulled out of some products that were not profitable”. He won’t be drawn on the number of redundancies across the Group, except to say that the business is “leaner”.
Who are we? Iskender Diker, director of sales and marketing
What do we do? Range cooker and kitchen appliance manufacturer
Sales stats “Annual turnover of AGA Rangemaster is £135million,” says Iskender Diker
Staffing levels 850 in AGA Rangemaster UK
“We are much more efficient and one of the defining features of our company now is that we can take decisions more quickly and be more agile,” he says.“Our innovation strategy has accelerated recently because we are speaking to other Middleby Group companies,” he says, “and have access to fantastic technologies.”
Sister companies in the residential cooking sector include well-established US brands Viking, U-Line and Marvel, plus a raft of commercial cooking and food processing businesses.
In September, Rangemaster introduced Nexus Steam, the first range cooker in the UK market with a dedicated steam oven cavity, now on display at the newly refurbished showroom and training centre adjacent to the factory in Leamington Spa.
Rangemaster can trace its history back to the original Kitchener cast iron cooker design, invented in 1830. It was the first cooker designed for boiling, roasting, baking and warming all from the same heat source and was subsequently awarded a gold medal at the 1851 Great Exhibition.
Cookers have continued to be manufactured on the same Leamington Spa site and Rangemaster introduced its first modern day range cooker in 1992.
All its range cookers are still manufactured on the site, with built-in appliances, extractor hoods and refrigeration sourced externally. There is a separate Rangemaster sink division, with products manufactured at a factory in Long Eaton
Today, Rangemaster, including its semi-professional Falcon and contemporary Mercury range cooking brands, forms part of the AGA Rangemaster Group, which also includes AGA, Rayburn and La Cornue.
The Group is owned by the Illinois-based Middleby Corporation, a leading worldwide manufacturer of equipment for the commercial food service, food processing and residential kitchen industries, following acquisition in September 2015
Also on show is the American-style fridge freezer with front door Vseal slot, designed for sealing plastic bags to keep food fresher for longer and for sous vide cooking. Next comes a product development focus on “increasing the speed of cooking on our range cookers” and on connectivity. “We are working on a host of smart range cookers that we are planning to bring out in about 18 months’ time,” he says.
Currently, about 90% of Rangemaster’s sales are of its range cookers, for which the company retains a market leading position and offers more than 700 different models.
“We are increasing our sales of built-in appliances, refrigeration and hoods every year,” says Diker. “We want our customers to see us as a one-stop-shop if they want to buy premium products for their homes.” While only range cookers are manufactured at Leamington Spa, Diker hints at new plans for the other categories.
“Watch this space – things could change in the next couple of years.” “We are expecting to increase our sales in the Group rapidly over the next two or three years,” he says.
“This growth will come from the UK and also in the global market.” The focus, he says, will be on developing Rangemaster’s presence in America, some European markets such as France and Germany, and Australia and New Zealand (it has recently launched new products for the Australian market).
“Our overall presence is going to scale up dramatically,” he says.
What is your greatest challenge? “How we scale up our business in the global market”
What is your greatest opportunity? “The conversations we are having with our Middleby Group sister companies – in commercial cooking, residential cooking and food processing – are enabling us to think outside the box and develop new products”
Strange but true “‘Rangemaster’ is googled more often than ‘range cooker’, which goes to show how well known the brand is”