Friday, 19 December 2014

Festive Sights at PKL!

With 2014 drawing to a close, we thought you might like a mini tour of our offices and the vast array of Xmas trees and creative efforts within! On our travels, we also came across a very festive elf who has a number of enlightening messages to share. Finally, we thought it would probably be a good idea to let you know our Christmas opening hours, so you can scroll down for them too!

'Tis the season, so here are a few of the festive sights spotted around the PKL office this week...

PKL Christmas - trees and decorations
Our mini office tree, a new friend on our reception desk, and the tree in the staff canteen
PKL Christmas - Christmas jumpers
National Christmas Jumper Day and a glorious snowscape

PKL Christmas - Reception area
The main tree in reception, Linda and Kelli showing off their jumpers, and a very classy mini tree
PKL Christmas - decorated desk
Over-enthusiastic desk decorating and PKL Christmas Jumper Day

PK Elf

As well as these seasonal scenes, we also spotted an elf who was keen to demonstrate some key PKL messages...

PKL Christmas - Elf and Safety
Elf and Safety, our Technical Support elfline, and elfy eating

Elf and safety is very important to us, and we hold a number of elf and safety accreditations including OHSAS18001, CHAS, F-Gas, Gas Safe and SAFEcontractor.

Our Technical Support elfline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and a person (or elf) is always on hand to offer support to clients with kitchens or catering equipment on hire from us. The elfline is open all through the festive season, so customers can always get hold of us if they need help.

Finally, we know elfy eating is very important to many of our customers, so we offer a range of over 9,000 items of commercial catering equipment to enable them to produce the exact menus that they want.

Christmas Opening Hours

Our office will close for the Christmas break at the end of the day on Tuesday 23rd December and will reopen on Monday 5th January.

If you have an emergency over the Christmas period and require a temporary kitchen or items of catering equipment, our emergency response line is open 24 hours a day, and you can reach us on 0845 840 42 42.

Thank you for all your support over the last year - we hope you have a very happy and successful 2015!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A-Z of PKL's 2014: Part 3

Here's the third and final part of my A-Z review of the year. This section covers letters R-Z and includes cows, football, jumpers and a few kitchens. Enjoy!

is for race week, and our psychic office bovine CowCow. As we are based just up the road from Cheltenham Racecourse, we can’t help but take an interest in the Cheltenham Festival each March. This year, CowCow used an elaborate spinner system to make his race predictions, which were shared on the blog and the PKL Twitter account. He successfully picked a number of winners this year, improving greatly on last year’s rather shaky performance.

S is for the School Food Plan and the Small Schools Taskforce. It’s been an incredibly busy year for schools, with huge changes to school food due to new standards set out in the School Food Plan. We’ve supplied a whole range of temporary and permanent kitchen solutions to schools this year to enable them to update their kitchens to cope with the changes. As a member of the Small Schools Taskforce, I’ve also spent time offering kitchen advice and recommendations to small and rural schools, who have been faced by a different set of challenges.

PKL A-Z of 2014 - CowCow and AFC Trident
CowCow making his race predictions and AFC Trident in their PKL shirts
T is for AFC Trident, the local football team that we are sponsoring this season. They’re having a great season so far (undoubtedly due to their fantastic PKL shirts!), and you can read more and follow their progress on the PKL blog, and in our monthly newsletters. T is also for Tennants Auctioneers, where we installed a temporary kitchen to keep their popular on-site restaurant running during a three-week kitchen refurbishment. For more details of this project, you can read the Tennants Auctioneers case study.

U is for Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM). Introduced in September, this government initiative to provide free school meals to all pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 has impacted on primary schools across the country. We’ve supported a number of schools to prepare their kitchen facilities for this, through the sale and hire of permanent KitchenPods to replace or extend existing school kitchens or provide a new facility for schools with no kitchen. We have also hired temporary kitchens to schools whose kitchens weren’t going to be ready on time.

PKL A-Z of 2014 - Tennant Auctioneers and Blended Festival Dubai
Temporary kitchen at Tennants Auctioneers and VIP kitchen at Blended Festival in Dubai

V is for VIP catering. We’ve supplied kitchens and catering equipment for VIP catering at various events throughout the year, including music festivals, concerts and awards shows. V is also for vehicles. Our vehicles have completed a number of tricky deliveries this year including negotiating narrow gates using forklifts at St Pauls School, and craning a temporary kitchen unit over an entire building at Burton College.

W is for our new strategic partnership with Well Dressed Tables, which was set up in August. It gives our customers access to Well Dressed Tables’ stock of crockery, cutlery and glassware to hire, providing a simple, one-stop solution. W is also for work experience. In April, local school pupil Beatrice joined the PKL marketing team for a week of work experience. From designing email newsletters to clearing out the marketing cupboard, she got stuck in to all the tasks we threw at her! You can read Beatrice’s work experience diary here.

X is for Xmas! Although our offices will be closed over the Christmas period, members of staff will be on call to help any businesses or organisations who need emergency kitchen facilities, and we already have a number of temporary units set up and ready to deploy at short notice. X is also for Xmas jumpers. We took part in National Christmas Jumper Day last Friday and raised money for homeless charity Crisis – embarrassing photo below.

PKL A-Z of 2014 - Burton College delivery and Christmas Jumper Day
Craning over a building at Burton College and National Christmas Jumper Day
Y is for the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation (YPO). As approved suppliers on the framework, we exhibited at The Big YPO Cleaning, Catering and FM Show in Nottingham in July. The exhibition featured 65 YPO suppliers and was attended by purchasing representatives from various public sector organisations. Y is also for Y Pant School in Wales. We installed a Food Cube at the school in the summer holidays, which is the third Cube we’ve supplied to that particular local authority.

Z is for zzz... Our Technical Support line will continue to be open 24 hours a day over the Christmas period to support existing kitchens we have out on hire, so even if a client has a kitchen problem at 2am on Christmas Day, a human will be there to answer the phone and help or dispatch an engineer – the rest of the country might be asleep, but if you have a kitchen emergency, you can always get hold of us.

That's the end of my review of 2014. There have of course been a number of other exciting projects and highlights throughout 2014, but I hope this brief review has given you an insight into the varying range of events and projects we've been involved in throughout the year.

Here's to 2015!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

A-Z of PKL's 2014: Part 2

Here is Part 2 of my A-Z of this year's highlights at PKL. Part 2 covers letters J-Q, and this section of the alphabet includes a number of exciting events that we've taken part in this year. In this section, it's also clear that it's been a hugely eventful year for the education sector in particular, with new legislation and school initiatives having had a significant impact on that side of our business! If you missed it last week, make sure you catch up on Part 1: A-I here.

J is for Jamie’s Kitchen Garden Project. In May, we installed a Food Technology Kitchen at St Paul’s Primary School in London as part of this Jamie Oliver initiative to get children growing their own food and cooking in schools. It was positioned by the school’s vegetable garden and was designed to include cooking equipment as well as tables and chairs for the children to eat at once they had cooked their meals.

K is for KitchenPods, our permanent modular kitchens. In November, local MP Ed Miliband officially opened the brand new KitchenPod at Kirkby Avenue Primary School in Doncaster. This was a spacious new kitchen with brick slip finish to blend in with existing buildings on site.

PKL A-Z of 2014 - Food Tech Kitchen and Kirkby Ave KitchenPod
Food Technology Kitchen installation at St Paul's Primary and KitchenPod at Kirkby Avenue Primary

L is for the LACA Exhibition which we attended in July. This year, we took along a portable kitchen and positioned it outside the main entrance of the venue for delegates to see in the flesh. Many people hadn’t seen inside a temporary kitchen before, and were surprised at the quality and spaciousness of the cooking environment. We always enjoy the LACA shows, and it was great to see so many familiar faces and meet new people too.

M is for PKL's Macmillan coffee morning. In September, we took part in the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. A huge cake sale in our staff canteen raised £175 for the cause. M is also for the Modular and Portable Building Association (MPBA), which PKL joined as a member in September. I also now sit on the committee as a member of the main MPBA Council.

PKL A-Z of 2014 - Temporary LACA kitchen and Macmillan cake sale
Temporary kitchen at the LACA Exhibition and Macmillan coffee morning

N is for National School Meals Week. As part of National School Meals Week, we installed a pop-up school kitchen outside the House of Commons on Tuesday 4th November. The kitchen was used to serve sample school lunches to MPs, peers and the public to promote school food and show what modern school meals are really like!

O is for The One Show. Back in March, our KitchenPods were featured on The One Show as a potential solution for schools needing kitchen facilities to offer UIFSM from September. We also installed a Food Cube at the BBC studios, to be featured as an example of a solution for schools suffering lunchtime congestion. The Food Cube was then used by Mary Berry to cook pancakes live on the show!

PKL A-Z of 2014 - NSMW kitchen and The One Show Food Cube
Pop-up school kitchen outside parliament for NSMW and Food Cube on The One Show

P is for Passmores Academy, where we installed a large, walk-through Food Cube. The school, which is the setting for hit TV show Educating Essex, needed to expand its dining facilities to cope with increasing pupil intake. The Food Cube was positioned by an existing outdoor covered seating area, turning it into an additional space where pupils could purchase and eat food. P is also for poetry. When it comes to poetry, we’ve found that no topic is more inspiring than catering equipment. Read our National Poetry Day rhyme, “Dance of the Catering Equipment”.

Q is for queueing. With increasing numbers of 16-18 year olds staying in education and the School Food Plan leading to increased school meal take-up, many school canteens have been experiencing growing congestion this year. Our Food Cubes have continued to be a popular solution for schools across the country, drastically reducing lunch queue times by easing the pressure on the main canteen and offering a quick “grab and go” service.

That's it for Part 2. Stop by the blog again next week for the final installment of the A-Z of PKL's 2014.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

A-Z of PKL's 2014: Part 1

It's been a great year at PKL, with lots of exciting new projects, partnerships and events. As 2014 draws to a close, I've put together an A-Z review of the year to pick out my highlights. I'll publish a blog post each week from now until the Christmas break to take you through my summary of PKL's 2014. Here's Part 1: A-I.

A is for Ashridge Business Centre. This business centre located in a stunning Grade I listed country house was the site of a 12-week temporary kitchen hire during the summer. The PKL temporary kitchen facility was capable of producing 500 meals per sitting for the centre's staff, visitors and functions while the centre underwent a refurbishment. For more details on this project, read our Ashridge case study.

B is for a fantastic KitchenPod installed at Bentley High Street Primary School in time for the introduction of UIFSM in September. B is also for our brilliant new brochures! These brochures were the result of months of hard work, so when the first copies were printed in May, it was a real cause for celebration. We now have separate brochures for Temporary Kitchens, Catering Equipment, Events, Permanent Solutions and Transworld.

C is for the Children's Food Trust, who we continue to support. With the introduction of UIFSM in September, it's been a busy year for school projects. For example, the Children's Food Trust and LACA put West Berkshire Council in touch with us when three schools needed urgent kitchen solutions - read the West Berkshire schools case study for more details. C is also for customer feedback. We use a Net Promoter Score to measure customer feedback. In the analysis of NPS, a score of above zero is good and above 50 is excellent. I'm delighted to say that our NPS score so far this year is 70, which demonstrates a very high level of customer satisfaction.

PKL A-Z of 2014 - Ashridge and Dubai
Temporary kitchens at Ashridge Business Centre and Dubai Food Carnival

D is for our new partnership with Lowe Refrigeration in Dubai. The partnership has seen our units used at a number of exciting events in Dubai, with case studies including kitchens at Dubai Food Carnival, Blended Music Festival and the Dubai Rugby Sevens.

E is for event health and safety. It might not sound too exciting but there are some very important new health and safety changes being introduced in the event industry next year which will affect all our event clients. The new CDM regulations will mean tougher event safety standards, similar to those seen in the construction sector. Luckily we’ve already been supplying CDM compliant products and services to the event sector for over five years! You can read more in our event health and safety blog post.

PKL A-Z of 2014 - Food Cubes
Food Cube with attached dining room and walk-in Food Cube

F is for festivals! Our UK Events team supplied kitchens to a number of festivals again this year, for a mix of VIP, staff and public dining. We've also installed lots of Food Cubes at secondary schools across the country, including new bespoke designs such as a Food Cube with attached dining room, and a walk-in Food Cube with additional catering equipment. F is also for the Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI), of which I am now a member!

G is for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, where we supplied the kitchens and servery areas for the main athletes' dining facility, as well as additional casual dining facilities. We supply kitchen and dining facilities to a number of major international sporting events, but it's always extra special when it's one based in the UK. G is also for Gabon, where we supplied a kitchen facility to an oil exploration camp, via our Transworld international division.

PKL A-Z of 2014 - Glasgow 2014 and Halfway House
Clyde enjoying a drink at Glasgow 2014 and the new Halfway House design

H is for our new Halfway House facility for golf clubs which was launched in August. This is a new member of our Food Cube family of products, and offers a modular food and drink servery with shop and toilets, to be located out on the golf course for players to use during their round. You can read more about it in our Halfway House blog post. H is also for the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA). As well as attending HCA meetings throughout the year, we hosted a meeting for the south west branch back in January.

I is for internal refurbishments! This year, we've undertaken various refurbishment works to our offices including a brand new reception area and board room, a major revamp in the canteen and fantastic new office chairs! Reception has had new paint and flooring, a new reception desk, the addition of a display case for all our awards(!) and a new wall-mounted screen. Elsewhere, the board room has had new paint, carpet, chairs, blinds and pictures, while the canteen has been repainted and had new flooring put down. All very smart.

That's it for Part 1. Keep an eye out for the A-Z Part 2 next week!