Friday, 28 March 2014

Catering Infrastructure Solutions for Universal Infant Free School Meals

At the moment, I’m receiving lots of enquiries from schools needing help with getting their kitchen facilities ready to meet the requirements of the School Food Plan and Universal Infant Free School Meals in September. 

The two main obstacles they’re up against tend to be time and funding, which are the areas in which our solutions can really help some schools. We offer a number of flexible procurement options on all our school facilities, including capital purchase, contract rental and lease. This enables schools with limited funding to help spread the cost and avoid the need for up-front capital expenditure. Our school solutions can also be installed and ready to use within a matter of weeks, keeping the whole process straightforward and stress-free.

Here’s a brief outline of our key options for schools wanting to prepare for September:


Many of my clients found the cost of kitchen building works prohibitive, and approached us looking for a solution better suited to their funding availability. Our KitchenPods are permanent modular kitchen buildings, but offer the ability to be moved and relocated if the school’s needs change over time. This capability offers another advantage in that unlike a traditional building, KitchenPods are also able to be offered on a rental or lease basis. For schools unable to fund an up-front capital purchase, these monthly payment options can be much easier for schools to manage, and can help make it easier for the caterers or other stakeholders to contribute to the payments (an increasingly popular way of funding new facilities!).

PKL KitchenPods are modular kitchens which are built and kitted out off-site in as little as 6 weeks from order, then installed in a matter of days. These are a very flexible solution with a number of sizes available, ranging from single units to large open-plan spaces. KitchenPods also offer a huge range of exterior finishes, enabling them to complement existing buildings on site. Schools often opt to have our KitchenPods installed on a weekend or during school holidays, to completely avoid any disruption on site.

KitchenFM for Schools

For schools who have a kitchen but have outdated or inadequate catering equipment, KitchenFM for Schools, which we developed with support from the Children’s Food Trust, is an ideal solution. For a fixed monthly fee, PKL will supply all the catering equipment and maintain it, with engineers only a phone call away. This is therefore a completely hassle-free option, and we can even buy back your existing equipment to include in the plan, and swap different equipment in and out if your menu or school meal take-up changes.

I know that many schools will not have the capital in place to purchase all new catering equipment, so KitchenFM for Schools is an excellent solution – contract rental of the catering estate means there is no up-front capital needed, and the responsibility for maintaining and looking after the equipment remains with PKL, so there will never be any nasty financial surprises!

Temporary Kitchens

PKL temporary kitchens can offer high quality
interim kitchen facilities to schools who need more time!

I know that some schools would prefer to see exactly how their school meal take-up is affected by the changes in September, before deciding on the best course of action for their kitchen facilities. Other schools have opted for extensive building works which won’t be ready in time for September or will disrupt existing kitchen facilities while they’re taking place. For schools in these types of situation who require interim catering facilities, PKL temporary kitchens are an ideal solution.

As the UK’s leading supplier of temporary kitchens, we are able to hire a whole range of kitchen facilities to meet your exact requirements and buy you time to get your permanent kitchen in place. With hires able to last from a few weeks to several years, temporary kitchens provide an easy and flexible option.

Further Information

If you’d like more information on any of these options, or if you’d like to discuss your school’s requirements with us, please visit or give us a ring and ask to speak to a member of the Permanent Kitchens Team (myself, Ian or Ed).

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Happiness at PKL

Today is the second annual International Day of Happiness! You might remember that last year, we listed some reasons why PKL is happy. Well, we're back again this year, explaining why we are still happy! We asked a few PKL staff members what's making them happy in their departments at the moment:

"The summer is fast aproaching, which will be busy but really exciting for us, with our equipment heading off to events all over the country!" Krista, Event Hire Team

"We're very proud and happy that our colleague Lee successfully survived his parachute jump in aid of Brain Tumour Research!" Andrea, Finance

"Our reception area has just had a complete facelift, with new paint and flooring as well as a new trophy cabinet, TV screen and reception desk!" Pat, Business Support

Reception before (top) and after (bottom)

"We've had some fantastic feedback and happy customers in Dubai following our new partnership with Lowe Refrigeration." Peter, PKL Transworld

"I'm happy because we've just added a new member to the CAD team to help with all the exciting new projects we're working on at the moment!" Karsten, Kitchen Design Team

"After months of hard work, our brand new range of hire guide brochures is in the process of being printed!" Sam, Marketing

Our new hire guide brochures being printed

"I'm happy that I had the opportunity to go and watch the filming of The One Show when our KitchenPods and Food Cubes were featured on it!" Ian, Permanent Kitchens Team

"We're happy because we've received a 92% customer satisfaction rating for quality and technical support this year!" John, Kit Heaven and Manisha, Technical Support

Friday, 14 March 2014

Cheltenham Festival 2014 - Day 4

Today is the final day of this year's Cheltenham Festival, and CowCow is planning to go out with a bang. Yesterday saw two more wins for CowCow, plus another of his predicted winners came in a very respectable second place. This cow is on fire.

CowCow on his throne

The "aviators of victory" stayed firmly on CowCow yesterday, and he also took a seat on his very own throne following his first win. As his second prediction came true, he leapt from his throne in great excitement, and has been positively insufferable ever since. We will, quite frankly, be relieved to see the end of race week and our bombastic bovine's celebratory antics. It's all getting a bit much.

CowCow makes his final predictions

This morning CowCow has thrown himself, quite literally, into today's predictions. Fingers crossed his winning streak continues and he hasn't been too over-confident!

To read an explanation of CowCow's prediction technique, read Tuesday's blog post here. You can also catch up on his predictions for Day 2 and Day 3.

CowCow's Cheltenham Festival Predictions - 14th March 2014

Race 1 (1:30pm) - Guitar Pete
Race 2 (2:05pm) - Alaivan
Race 3 (2:40pm) - Captain Cutter
Race 4 (3:20pm) - On His Own
Race 5 (4:00pm) - Divine Intavention
Race 6 (4:40pm) - The Skyfarmer
Race 7 (5:15pm) -  His Excellency

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Cheltenham Festival 2014 - Day 3

With a second correct prediction and another horse which placed, CowCow's aviators stayed firmly on yesterday, as he basked in his own awesomeness.

PKL Group | CowCow Day 3

Today, our emboldened bovine has confidently picked out another set of predicted winners for you, launching himself enthusiastically at the mystic spinner. If you're just joining us on the blog today, you can read an explanation of CowCow's predicting method in Tuesday's blog post here.

Will CowCow's aviators of victory be required again today? Here are his top picks:

CowCow's Cheltenham Festival Predictions - 13th March 2014

Race 1 (1:30pm) - Captain Ocana
Race 2 (2:05pm) - Fingal Bay
Race 3 (2:40pm) - Hunt Ball
Race 4 (3:20pm) - Big Buck's
Race 5 (4:00pm) - Colour Squadron
Race 6 (4:40pm) - Spring Heeled

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Cheltenham Festival 2014 - Day 2

CowCow got off to a brilliant start yesterday, with his predicted horse winning the first race! To celebrate his first ever correct prediction, he put his aviators on and acted like a complete diva for the rest of the afternoon.

Sadly, things went a little downhill after the first race, but overall his first day was not entirely terrible (especially compared to last year!). Today's predictions are below, and CowCow is feeling optimistic! If you need a reminder of exactly how CowCow makes his predictions, see yesterday's post for details.

CowCow's Cheltenham Festival Predictions - 12th March 2014

Race 1 (1:30pm) - Knock House
Race 2 (2:05pm) - Le Bec
Race 3 (2:40pm) - Son of Flicka
Race 4 (3:20pm) - Sire De Grugy
Race 5 (4:00pm) - Star Neuville
Race 6 (4:40pm) - Keltus
Race 7 (5:15pm) -  El Namoose

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Cheltenham Festival 2014 - Day 1

As you may be aware, our offices are just a couple of miles up the road from Cheltenham Racecourse. This means that we all tend to pay particular attention to the Cheltenham Festival, if only to try and plan creative routes to and from work to avoid the race traffic!

Regular blog readers may remember that last year, our office bovine "CowCow" made daily race predictions by launching himself at a pile of printed horse names. You'll also recall that what he lacked in accuracy, he made up for in enthusiasm and facial hair. Nevertheless, he's back this year with a new prediction technique and a general aura of luck about him. Though that may, of course, just be his moustache shedding a bit. Either way, he's good to go!

How CowCow makes his race predictions
CowCow (complete with jaunty moustache), numbered spinners for each race, and the sophisticated spinner system which uses a winning combination of drawing pins, paperclips, cardboard and blue tack.

This year, we've created a numbered spinner for each race, featuring equal-sized segments representing the number of horses due to run. Each numbered segment corresponds to a different horse. To predict each race, the spinner is spun (with help from a human staff member) and then CowCow launches himself upon the spinner, stopping it in its tracks. Whichever numbered segment the spinner stops on becomes CowCow's prediction. Brilliant, we're sure you'll agree.

So, without further ado, here are today's predictions!

CowCow's Cheltenham Festival Predictions - 11th March 2014
Race 1 (1:30pm) - Vautour
Race 2 (2:05pm) - Grandouet
Race 3 (2:40pm) - Tour Des Champs
Race 4 (3:20pm) - Our Conor
Race 5 (4:00pm) - Pass The Time
Race 6 (4:40pm) - Rogue Angel
Race 7 (5:15pm) -  Ericht

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

PKL on The One Show

PKL Director Lee Vines and The One Show Presenter Matt BakerEagle-eyed viewers might have spotted my fleeting appearance on The One Show on Monday, talking about PKL KitchenPods as a potential solution for schools requiring new kitchen facilities to help with implementing the School Food Plan and Universal Infant Free School Meals.

The feature looked at the issues some schools will be facing in getting ready for the changes, and touched on several potential solutions. John Vincent from The School Food Plan helped a headteacher explore a number of options to ensure her school could meet the Plan's recommendations. The PKL KitchenPod at Bush Hill Park Primary School in Enfield was featured (thanks to headteacher Sue Crisp) as an example of modular kitchen buildings which provide flexible procurement options - including purchase, rental or lease - which can help schools without funding for an upfront purchase.

The feature also discussed options such as the local authority or private caterers borrowing money to invest in school kitchens, with the knowledge that a good facility will generate a profit, enabling the money to be paid back over time. Bringing the catering in-house was another suggestion put forward in the feature. This option can provide a great solution to schools whose current catering company may no longer represent the highest quality and most cost-effective solution when faced by the increased numbers of children who will be entitled to free school meals from September.

PKL KitchenPod on The One Show
One of our PKL Food Cubes was installed at the BBC studios for the day, for a live piece about how modular servery buildings can provide a solution to queues and congestion in school dining rooms. Mary Berry seemed to enjoy cooking pancakes in the Cube, describing it as "splendid" when interviewed by presenters Matt and Alex. Sadly we're not able to include a free Mary Berry with every Food Cube, but we do supply a variety of features and equipment,which we hope makes up for it!

I had a fantastic afternoon down at The One Show studios, watching rehearsals and pre-recordings. The studio is much smaller than I'd expected, but is run with such efficiency that a larger space really isn't necessary! I was also surprised to find that the outside filming area where our Food Cube was located is very open to the public, with people passing on the street able to watch from only a few metres away.

PKL Food Cube installation on The One ShowPKL Food Cube on The One ShowDuring a break in rehearsals, I had a chat with presenter Matt Baker, who was particularly interested in the issue as his own children don't currently have a hot meal option at school.

It was also nice to catch up with John Vincent from the School Food Plan and hear about the filming he'd done for the feature. I'm a member of the School Food Plan's Small Schools Taskforce, so we had plenty to talk about!

The show will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer until 10th March 2014, so watch it here asap if you missed it. The school meals feature starts 16 minutes in and lasts for about 10 minutes.

For more information on PKL school solutions, visit our dedicated schools website at