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Beefeater barbecues are back for 2013. Distribution throughout UK and Europe is now in the very capable hands of Matthew Richards and the parent company in Australia, Woodland Home Products.
It has not always been this way for Beefeater BBQ’s, as the Aussies like to term it, as they have grappled with the UK market and the vagaries of our weather for over 25 years.
I was first introduced to Australian style barbeques by my friends Graham and Sharon, who had a Sunshine Legend 4. In fact they had two, and entertained my family regally during the 1990s on a diet of prawns, fish and meats barbecued a thousand different ways.
Alan Chater became the European lynchpin for Sunshine Barbecues but not before serving a long apprenticeship. I first met Alan at the Garden and Leisure Trade Exhibition (GLEE) at the NEC some years before, extolling the virtues of the Europs (I think that was its name) BBQ range.
Alan’s demonstration had a lasting effect on me as he had the time and patience to explain how the heat warmed the lava rock which started to cook the meat which then dropped its fat back onto the lava rock where it was vaporised back up so the food cooked in its own juices….. or barbecued! The flavour does not come inherently from the charcoal, or lava rock, but from the meat itself.
Despite being told I would never sell a £400.00 barbecue online, at the turn of the century I persevered, and Sunshine Barbecues were the first barbecue brand to appear on my fledgling e-commerced website, GardenSite. Success was not instant, and not without hard work, but sales grew steadily over the next 2 or 3 years.
Then Alan left Sunshine Barbecues, quite suddenly it seemed. In later years Alan told me that he was not enamoured with the proposals that the parent company had made and he departed with his sales, and reputation intact. Segar Reddy, known universally as SJ in the trade, came over from Australia to head up the UK and Europe operation. In time Alan was seemingly proved right as Sunshine Barbecues effectively pulled out of the UK market at the end of 2006.
‘Hi Robert, my spies tell me that you were down in a certain retail outlet in Murcia the other day;
don't tell me you've quit the country for good! I'm back in the BBQ business looking after the
European sales for Beefeater BBQ's - yes, yet another Ozzie company’.
And that is how Alan announced his news to me in 2004 about heading up Beefeater barbecues in UK and Europe. He was also right about me being in a retail outlet in Murcia, Spain……. but he never told me how he knew?
I ran both brands, along with others, but Beefeater became the brand leading gas barbecue range on GardenSite within 3 years. We have been loyal to the brand ever since, and see no reason to move away from that position. Alan helped establish the fabulous build quality that Beefeater are well known for and cemented the brand in the market place. When Alan’s work was done, several years later he stepped back and Matthew played a more dominant role in time.
Alan always had plans, ambitions and aspirations. The last time I sat down and spoke with him at length he regaled me with tales of Cuba, calypso music, British sports cars, Australian houses and good food. A fairly eclectic range of passions, but one that reflected the man, I feel.
Matthew’s tenure at Beefeater turned out to be that of a ‘holding’ role during 2009. I am not privy to the circumstances but Matthew seemed to be doing everything, as well as raising a family. I think it was a busy year for him. Throughout Matthew was always supportive of GardenSite and our aspirations to promote his Beefeater brand.
An e-mail and a phone call from Sam Morcom at the start of 2010 heralded a new era of distribution for Beefeater Barbecues. Sam was part of LAPA distribution from Borough Green in Kent. LAPA were taking over distribution, and Matthew was also involved. Sam disappeared after 12months because of ill health. He was a young man and I never knew what happened to him, but I certainly wish him well.
The LAPA team were able to support the Beefeater brand with their obvious distribution professionalism. I do think the economic downturn, couple with the British summers in 20111 and 2012 conspired against LAPA. The ‘summer’ of 2012 will be etched long into the memories of all those that experienced it. Enough said.
Matthew Richards, along with Beefeater Australia (Woodland Home Products) are now back and in charge for 2013 and they will be getting our support. The new Beefeater BUGG is a very exciting introduction to the UK market, particularly the BBC Top Gear variant.
If you are looking to buy a quality branded gas barbecue from a manufacturer that is committed to the UK market then you now know that the Beefeater brand, backed by GardenSite is a winning combination. Quality and service are hard to beat. We perhaps all need just a little help from the UK weather though…? Fingers crossed.
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