eBay of used equipment takes on global market

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food processing, Food

Call them the eBay of the food processing and packaging machine
sector.

David and Audrey Boyd have leveraged the Internet to grow their UK companies into international dealers buying and selling anything from single pieces of used equipment, all the way to the contents of entire factories.

Plant managers can use the Internet sites they have created to source or sell used and reconditioned food processing machinery.

The availability of second hand food machinery also helps smaller companies get into the market quickly without having to make a big spend on new equipment -- providing processors with theability to make adjustments to their production line faster.

Trends in the food industry have also been relatively unpredictable in recent years, leading more and more companies to rely on the used equipment market to keep apace with constantchanges, said Yvonne Donaldson, Boyd Food Machinery's business development manager.

The private company's turnover grew by 26 per cent last year.

"Most of our business still comes through the Internet,"​ she told FoodProductionDaily.com in an interview.

Many manufacturers in Western Europe and other more developed regions are also selling their used equipment as they change products to meet changing consumer trends, Donaldson said.

In turn, companies in developing markets in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and India are buying up the equipment to meet the increased demand.

The couple's two companies, Boyd Food Machinery and Global Asset Recovery, are aimed exclusively at the industrial food processing sector.

Boyd Food concentrates on buying equipment, refurbishing the machines and then selling them on to UK or international customers. The company runs a lean operation, depending on 12 staff, mostly machine specialists.

Global Asset specialises in providing asset finance advice, valuations and disposal options for insolvency practitioners, corporate recovery specialists and financial institutions and companies.

The company arranges evaluations for all capital items, from individual units to entire factory contents.

Unlike eBay, which acts as an intermediary or broker between buyer and seller, Boyd Food will buy the machine outright, dismantle it, send it the company's site near Aberdeen. The company may thenrefurbish the equipment or sell it as it to buyers.

Owning stock gives the company control over the quality of reconditioned equipment and allows it to maintain competitive prices, Donaldson said.

On the Internet sites buyers can view photographs and the technical specifications of the machines. They then fill out a form online to request further details or to make enquires. Machinerysellers go to a separate section and upload photographs and the specifications.

Donaldson said sometimes buyers will ask for specific equipment that may not be available. Through its worldwide network Boyd may then be able to then find the right equipment.

The companies operate in all food sectors including fish, bakery, ready meals, meat, vegetables, convenience foods and poultry. They have supplied and installed used refrigeration plants, freezersand complete processing and packing lines.

Brand names remain the big draw in the used processing equipment market, including machines by Koppens, Stein, Formax, Coat and Fry, Provatec, Heat and Control, Seydelmann, Alpina, Ishida, Sandiacre, Loma, Frigoscandia, Grasso and Sabroe.

Initially Boyd was mainly doing trade in the UK, then slowly expanded to Europe. Now buyers and sellers come from all over the world.

The company recently sold a used German-made spiral freezer bought in the UK to an Australian buyer. The freezer was one-fifth the cost of a new one, allowing the buyer to rationalise the cost oftransport.

"Even if he had bought it in Germany the transport costs would have been the same,"​ Donaldson said.

Used poultry equipment is a big seller, she said. A trend to more automation also means companies are tend to seek entire processing lines instead of just single machines.

Machines for ready-made or partially cooked meals and for frozen foods are also big business. Many processing companies are moving to manufacture foods that are sold in bulk to restaurants andchains as more and more people eat out of the home.

"Manufacturers move and change and adapt to suit the markets they are in,"​ she noted. "We tend to find it's the middle-sized ones that will sell and buy used equipment, buteven the huge manufacturers will buy second hand as will a company just setting up or expanding. It's right across the board."

The Middle East is a growing market as manufacturers respond to a growing demand for processed foods. People are changing from traditionally making food from scratch at home to buying more likeWestern consumers. The Indian market is also changing in the same way, Donaldson said.

Western Europe and the Far East, especially Malaysia, are also growing markets.

Meanwhile the asset recovery side of the business mainly finds its business in inventory sourced from factories that are being closed. The company will make an inventory of individual pieces aswell as individual lines. The company's staff will then use the factory as a showcase for the machinery, giving potential buyers the chance to see the lines in operation.

"Often we have people we know are looking for that complete line,"​ Donaldson said.

Both companies are owned by David and Audrey Boyd. They started operations in 1996.

David is company chairman and has 13 years experience in the meat and fish processing industries. Audrey Boyd is the finance director, havingpreviously worked in the banking sector.

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