Andrew Withers, managing director and owner of Fast Food Systems is not just a modern, caring businessman but could be perceived as a leading figure in the industry. He sees raising and establishing standards of food preparation as an investment in retail image and growth.

Under the banner of Southern Fried Chicken, Andrew ovelooks a hugely impressive franchise concept group of some 700 outlets in the UK and overseas locations including China, Russia and India. The group is a European leader in the supply and manufacture of commercial catering equipment. His caring mission was notably highlighted in the Channel 4 Undercover Boss series whereby Andrew visited an SFC premises in South Shields.

A challenge arising from that visit was the vital quality of the cooking oil which of course is a key aspect of the sales and image aspect to the customers. This in turn leads to linking with the instrumentation manufacturer Testo, and notably their specialist range of market leading cooking oil testers and food thermometers which truly maintain core standards. Sales Unit Manager, Warren Mansfield-Smith, explains "I often watch 'Undercover Boss' on Channel 4 and when I saw the SFC episode advertised I knew I had to see it to give me an insight into how the business operated.

During the program Andrew asked one of the franchisees when they knew to change the oil, and I knew that was my opportunity. I contacted Andrew to discuss the Testo 270 and he was extremely receptive to find out how the product could assist them in offering quality products to their customers."

As Andrew observes " The Ali family who operate the outlet in South Shields are very progressive and enthusiastic and their premises looks fantastic. Working with them has meant a lot to me personally since they set up in 1998. We all understand the need for consistent and healthy preparation of the chicken product which is based on an exclusive recipe created by my father over 25 years ago.

The trustworthy public perception of what we do is absolutely vital and we need to always transmit the cleanliness and grasp of the best technology and this policy has been totally vindicated by a 100% sales growth. Given the lack of proper legislation in this country as regards cooking criteria I see this crucial subject as a duty of care hence my being also actively and proudly involved with the Stroke Association. The understanding and delivery of a healthy diet is core to our business".

At the front line as it were is Brand Manager Tony Maskell who is delighted to see the Testo instruments becoming a standard feature of the retail activity as shown for example at the Reading SFC. " The products are compact and easy to operate and it takes just a few seconds to ensure that the food is totally pure and safe to sell.

The 270 tester crucially measures the total polar materials as regards chemical products and fatty acids and it has a simple traffic light visual alarm which is very practical and shows whether the optimum temperature has been reached or exceeded. Equally the 104 Waterproof Thermometer is right for the task and the sturdy and precise probe tells us by way of a large illuminated display exactly whether we are good to go. I am also comforted by the fact that the Testo systems conform to all required standards. They are complemented by visual aids around the store which staff are trained and required to follow at all times so that quality checking is second nature to them. It is also especially reassuring for customers to be able to see such proper attention at all times".

July 2012

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