The King Is Dead: Long Live The King!

By Dave Ward, M.D., EVOCA UK

Hello again and (if it’s not too late?) Happy New Year!

Someone recently told me that I would make his English professor weep with my poetry so it is with some trepidation that I dare to challenge the wisdom of the late Mr. W. Shakespeare.

You may be aware of a little play wot he wrote that was set in Italy and called ‘Romeo and Juliet’, in which two young-and-in-love people are deep in the you-know-what. The problem is that the loved-up kids are members of two families – the Capulets and the Montagues – which are at war with each other.


The most famous action unfolds during the so-called ‘Balcony Scene’. (That’s the one where Juliet says ‘Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?’, unaware that her beau is skulking about in the bushes below). ‘What’s in a name’, she asks him when he reveals himself. ‘That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet.’

We can’t blame her for being so naïve –after all, she’s only 14 – but she seems to think that the name of something, in the Big Scheme of Things, doesn’t matter a jot. But she’s completely wrong. Your company name or brand names are how people know you.

When Necta and Wittenborg became one and sold vending machines all over the world, the name ‘N&W Global Vending’ was right on the money. Since that day in 2000, much has changed. We embarked upon a process of organic and acquisitive expansion that would add, (in no particular order), Gaggia, Ducale, Saeco, Cafection, SGL and Newis to our portfolio of world-class brands.

EVOCA Group: Because N&W&G&D&S&C&N&S was never going to work!

Entirely due to the fact that N&W&G&D&S&C&N&S was never going to work, The time had come to grasp the nettle and make a change. So, we became the EVOCA Group. EVOCA cleverly refers to EVOlution and CAffe. As our Chief Executive Officer Andrea Zocchi says, ‘as a global leader in professional coffee machines, coffee has always been at the core of our DNA and business strategy. It is an attractive market and it’s evolving, with new challenges and opportunities for growth. Our rebranding strategy is rooted in our past. It  reaches its full development today with EVOCA. We’ve looked ahead, beyond the established boundaries. We’ve  progressed on a path that benefits our customers and all consumers.’

So there you have it. We’re no longer simply a vending machine company. In fact, it’s some time since we were ‘simply a vending machine company’. We’re actually a business that’s at the forefront of the coffee industry. The world is moving fast, but we’re keeping up with the pace. With our new name unveiled, as Andrea has said, we can continue to progress on that path that ‘benefits our customers and all consumers.’

So, raise a New Year’s glass to the EVOCA Group. ‘The King is dead: long live the King!’

Until next time, bye for now.


At Long Last, It’s Back To The Day Job

It started as two years, it turned into four years, but now, at last, I can say ‘that’s that’.

I’m referring of course to my tenure as Chairman of the AVA and looking back, I presided over a period of unprecedented change in the organisation.

But, as Mr. Harrison used to sing, ‘All Things Must Pass’, and since I’m not one to dwell on the past, I’ll leave my comments right there. All that remains for me to do is to wish my successor, David Llewellyn, every success during his term of office.

What did you make of AVEX 2017? With my AVA head on, you’d have expected me to be an enthusiastic advocate of our biennial trade show but in my day job here at N&W, I’m also a staunch supporter.

There have been some negative comments floating about concerning this year’s stint at the NEC and the AVA has to face the fact that exhibitor and visitor numbers were not where we wanted them to be – and nowhere near where they used to be. The world has and is changing. Having said that, AVEX was an effective and enjoyable undertaking for us all at N&W.

Dave's Rant

AVEX was an effective and enjoyable undertaking for us all at N&W.

The regional shows are ideal if you have a simple or limited product range. You can cram your wares onto a small, pop-up style stand and you can easily get your goods in and out in just a couple hours. If, for instance, you have ten flavours of crisps to show, no problem.

But put yourself in the shoes of a machine manufacturer like N&W. We are severely limited in terms of the number of products we can take, so we can only tell part of our story. Despite our best efforts to show, demonstrate and advertise our range, one of the most consistent bits of feedback after any major show like AVEX is ‘I did not know how big your portfolio was’, or ‘I did not know you made one of those’. With the best will in the world, we can give customers nothing more than a taster of what we have to offer.

In my opinion, we need an event like AVEX to showcase properly what we do. It may be in a different format or location, but the bottom line is that we need space. 15 or 20 square metres just doesn’t cut it. We took 38 machines to the NEC and even that wasn’t our complete portfolio. At AVEX, we can spread out, we can sit customers down and spend time with them, and there’s room for them to really get hands-on with our machines. We can offer hospitality, too – and that’s an issue at the smaller shows.

There’s talk that the UK vending industry doesn’t need AVEX but in my opinion, the naysayers are wrong. AVEX might not have the same punching power as Venditalia (or one or two other events I could mention), but from a machine manufacturer’s perspective, it’s the best we’ve got in the UK. So, until somebody comes up with a better idea…

See you next time



Today’s Investment In Tomorrow

Dave Ward reveals that ‘the entire spine of our team has been strengthened.’
Main Image: N&W CEO Andrea Zocchi



Hello again.

Dave Ward

It’s getting more intense every time, isn’t it? I mean, there’s speculation beforehand, accusations and denials in the thick of it and countless thousands of post-mortems when it’s all over.

You’ll be relieved to hear that I’m not referring to elections or referenda here, (we’ve all had an eyeful of those). I’m not even thinking about who Tayto are buying next! I am, in fact, referring to something far more important: football’s ‘transfer window.’

What you might not know, though, is that whilst Messrs. Wenger, Mourhino, Guardiola, Klopp et-al have been working themselves, like whirling dervishes, into a frenzy of excess; our own guv’nor (Sr. Andrea Zocchi), has quietly been going about his work of improving our own squad…

What’s happened is that the entire spine of our team has been strengthened. We went into the market shortly after we were acquired by Lone Star in March 2016. At the time, you might remember, Andrea was quoted as saying: ‘Lone Star will be a strong partner to work with over the next stage of N&W’s growth.’

So it has proved.

… Now part of N&W!

The first acquisition was Saeco Vending S.p.A. The deal allows us to use the well-known Saeco and Gaggia brands in the professional coffee machines, OCS and HoReCa markets. Next, we purchased the entire share capital of Ducale Macchine da Caffè S.r.l. Finally, (for now), we announced a joint venture with Quebec based Les Enterprises Cafection which will spearhead our penetration of the North American OCS market. It’s proof, in any were needed, that N&W means business.

Of course, the truth is that, for the time being at least, as a UK customer, you won’t notice any difference. Behind the scenes, though, we’ve added huge fire power to our team; not least in R&D and technology. So down the line, you’ll profit from our investment in the future – that’s for sure.




It’s Dave’s Blog: ‘Announcing, With Resignation, Retirement.’


Hello again

Dave Ward

When I started work I was resigned to the fact that, come hell or high water, on the occasion of my sixty-fifth birthday, my bosses would shake my hand, take my car keys; say ‘thank-you, live long and happily’ – and show me the door.

There was no question and no debate. Come sixty-five, you collected your cards.

But there’s no such thing as ‘retirement’ anymore. The government began to phase out ‘the default retirement’ age at the start of April, 2011 and by October of that year it became illegal for employers to issue the minimum six-month notification for compulsory retirement, using the default retirement age procedure. I wonder how many people reading this will have a clause in their contracts along the lines of ‘your employment will cease on your sixty-fifth birthday’? Totally invalid now…

And seeing as I’m not one to miss an opportunity to highlight some unintended consequences… I’m sure the Government thinks this is a really good idea and I’m broadly in agreement with removing enforced retirement; but… Did HMG think about the massive increase in the cost of insurance, health cover and what have you incumbent in employing someone over sixty-five? I’m sure they didn’t and I’m equally sure that businesses will end-up having to foot the bill.

Since the law changed, if employers want to enforce retirement, their decisions have to be objectively justified. One thing is certain, though: workers can no longer be forced to retire on the grounds of age alone.

So, in reality, Mick, Allan and Dave haven’t technically retired . On the contrary, they’ve resigned and therefore, in my view at least, retirement, as a concept, has been rendered meaningless. I’d like to thank them, personally and on behalf of everybody at N&W, past and present, for their dedication and commitment. They’ll be sorely missed.

Now, with that off my chest, it’s time for me, (with some resignation), to retire to bed… It’s a school night, after all.

It’s Dave’s Blog: “I’m With Conor On This One…”

By Dave Ward

And finally, I can think about the blog…

Hello again.

It’s been a hectic few days but now, I’m sitting in a freezing cold Danish train in a tunnel (whose name I can’t pronounce) under the sea. I’ve just gone through my e-mails in the unaccustomed peace and quiet and found one from our PR people. In it, there’s a suggestion that I could write about my observations on the furore surrounding the recent rugby match between England and Italy.

They’ve kindly provided a few pointers to get me started, but there’s a problem: all their suggestions rail against the Irish coach in charge of Italy. They suggest I should say that stringing him up might be the most propitious course of action open to us. The trouble with that is this: I’m with Conor O’Shea on this one.

I work for a company which is all about Innovation and we compete in an industry that’s driven by Innovation. Basically, that’s what we saw during the match. Something new that we hadn’t seen before. ‘Innovation’.

Innovation, but ‘contrariwise’, nothing new. After all, controversy has characterised rugby since Day One, when Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it.

It’s William Webb Ellis. Honest.

More recently, the crossfield kick been contentious. It’s generally viewed as ‘a good thing’, because it makes for an exciting game; but it did have its nay-sayers to begin with because basically, it’s a steal from rugby league. Shhh.

My point is that change and innovation are usually beneficial even if, at first, the opposite seems true. I mean, who knows what Italy’s new tactic will bring in response? You can bet that someone in the game will find another innovative solution to overcome it. You’ll never hear me poo-poo any body who tries to do something that hasn’t been done before.

CAVEAT: Having said that, I read somewhere that the re-appearances of former PMs Major and Blair to stick their oars in over Brexit is ‘an innovative approach to democracy’. Oh no it isn’t. The un-elected using their power to influence others in this country? We’ve been there before and besides, in my view that’s not ‘Innovation’, that’s ‘Meddling’.

Until next time, it’s hå det bra from me, from deep beneath Denmark.

So, What’s Your Verdict? ‘Good Service’, Or ‘Poor Service’?

By Dave Ward

By Dave Ward

Are you familiar with the phrase, ‘perception is reality’? It’s one of those sayings that we take for granted, that we use from time to time without really thinking about what they mean.

But to tell you the truth, even if it quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, and looks like a duck, it ain’t necessarily a duck…

In my professional life, I’m principally a supplier. I don’t personally sanction every order, but if anything goes wrong – or if anything appears to have gone wrong – then as MD, the buck stops with me.


When perception really isn’t reality…

But I’m also a consumer and just like everybody else, if I’m on the sharp end of poor service, I’m not going to let it go. I’m like a dog with a bone when, as a customer, I feel let down or undervalued.

I won’t bore you with the details but I had an issue with a mobile phone recently. It wasn’t working the way it should and I was pushed from pillar to post by somebody who had no idea what her company’s legal obligations were in relation to my issue.

When I was told, ‘look it’s not our problem, you have to get in touch with (a third party) directly’, I blew a fuse, because the person on the other end of the phone was wrong. But how much time (and aggravation) can you be bothered to invest in ‘winning the argument’, when the financial stakes are not that high? At what point do you chuck the offending item in the bin and go and buy something else instead?

So you won’t be surprised to learn that if I’m ever accused of delivering poor service, I take it very seriously indeed; mostly because, quite honestly, it happens so seldom. And what I’ve learned is this: just because ‘the customer is always right’, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the customer is always right. You see, if they perceive that they’ve been let-down…

All our customers are aware of the fact that our products are made in Italy and shipped all over the world. The egg-heads at Valbrembo have to allocate production resources, so its their job to anticipate what the demand for each model is likely to be, and to plan accordingly.

Now usually, this works a treat; but recently, demand for one particular machine outstripped our ability to supply it. We were allocated just ten to begin with and they sold fast. Then we accepted an order for 50 which, by a combination of skulduggery and intercession over at HQ, we were able to deliver, in full. It was a sale that hadn’t been forecast.

Phew – but then came another order. It was at the time that the factory was closed down for the summer, so our Italian colleagues were off on their jollies. When the order was placed, it was clear that our customer expected the machines to be delivered at once. We were straight and we were up-front: ‘It can’t be done’, we said, ‘there’s nobody in the office or the factory until’, whatever date it was. ‘The best we can do is…’

It wasn’t the hoped for response and so, needless to say, it didn’t go down too well with our customer. However, we’d told the truth and in my book, the outcome was ‘unfortunate’ – but it wasn’t ‘poor service’.

…their desired scenario just isn’t going to happen.

Poor service means going back on you word; letting people down, being unaware of your legal responsibilities. Good service, on the other hand, sometimes means informing a customer as soon as possible that their desired scenario just isn’t going to happen and then working through any consequent issue together…

Of course, it was simply our customer’s desire to deliver great service to their customer that raised the temperature. We all want to give our best, that’s for sure; but remember that phrase, perception is reality?

I was once given a great piece of advice. It was, ‘in business, Dave, under promise and over deliver’. It’s when we make promises that we can’t (or aren’t prepared) to keep, that service really does go pear-shaped and customers search for alternative suppliers.

So, think on: that sound you can hear might not be quacking after all…

See you at Vendex.




Six Of The Best from Dave Ward

Our MD is on a well-deserved break so, in his absence, we thought we’d look back at some of Dave’s comments, on a variety of subjects, from the past 12 months or so. It’s thought provoking stuff – enjoy!


… On Refurbished Machines
Back in June at our Open House event, Dave returned to the subject of the proliferation of reconditioned vending machines. He’s always believed that the strategy of using older machine stock is fundamentally flawed and has the potential to restrict the development of vending as a preferred purchasing channel. He said:

‘Around fifty to sixty percent of machines taken out of service are refurbished and placed back in the marketplace. The consequence of that is forty percent of machines in the field today are more than ten years old. Can you imagine 40% of cars on the road in the UK being more than ten years old? No, I can’t either.’

Read the full story here.

Fiona Chambers and Ian Chambers of SV24-7; Aileen Armour of N&W

Fiona Chambers and Ian Chambers of SV24-7, with our own Aileen Armour at our recent ‘Open House’ event.



…On Business Opportunities
At the same meeting, Dave identified areas of growth that offer opportunities to vending operators. He said:

‘Just about the only segment of the new machine market that’s growing these days is ‘espresso table-tops’ – machines that weren’t available ten years ago. It’s a part of the market that’s exploding and I firmly believe that this is where extra profits will come from our customers. Who’d have thought ten years ago that we’d be prepared to pay £3 for a coffee in a high-street shop?’

Read the full story here.


…On Brexit

Let’s hope Dave’s memories of life before we were in the the EU don’t repeat themselves now that we’re bowing out…

‘There are some of us old enough to remember the time before the UK was in the EU. Taking samples across borders, for instance, was fraught with hassle. We had to use something called a carnet. It was a document that you had to have if you wanted to import certain goods to countries without paying customs duty. It was a nightmare: at every border the carnet had to be checked and the border officials were required to sign your goods in. Then they had to sign them out again when you returned home.

Read the full story here. (And hope that it doesn’t come to pass…)




…On Training
It can be frustrating: you’ve gathered together the best customer support team in the business, only to have them tied-up handling situations and dealing with problems that really ought to have been sorted out at source. Training is a huge part of N&W’s offer – we only wish that more companies chose to make use of both our expertise and our facilities!

I’m confident that at N&W I have the best technical team in the business: the problem is that half of the enquiries they deal with on a daily basis could – should, in fact – be handled by the engineer on site, without any need to trouble the ‘tech desk’. Why? Because basic technical training would have enabled that engineer to diagnose the problem at source and act accordingly.

Read the full story here


… On Electronic Tray Labelling (ETL).
On the day we introduced ETL, vending changed forever. ETL makes point-of-sale marketing easy; it can promote meal deals and special offers… Someday soon, all vending machines will be like this. Until then, there’s N&W…

‘I’m sure that the introduction of ETL will come to be seen as a pivotal moment in the history of the vending industry, as soon as operators catch on to its potential. When they do, ETL will be a game-changer.


ETL: Someday, all vending machines will be like this.

Read the full story here


…On Customer Service
Talking a good game when it comes to customer service is one thing, delivering it is something else altogether. Benjamin Franklin was spot on when he remarked, ‘well done is better than well said.’ At N&W, we celebrate great customer service. Dave wrote:

‘Every now and then, we’re challenged to live up to our reputation for excellent customer service and once in a while, we deliver to a level that, quite honestly, is quite humbling and makes me very, very proud of my team.’

Find out what Dave’s referring to here.


That’s all folks! Next time, Dave will be back with a new edition of ‘the best read blog in UK vending’.

See you then!