We meet the people breathing new life into the Preston & Thomas brand
Up until three months ago, Rangetek was a small business employing just four people, specialising in the supply of reconditioned frying ranges, bespoke counter arrangements and upgrades for fish and chip shops.
But having acquired Preston & Thomas after the company went into administration six months ago, the family-run outfit has been catapulted into the area of manufacturing, a challenge that owners Donna and Martin Lewis are relishing.
“When we heard about Preston & Thomas going into administration we were shell-shocked,” says Donna. “My father set the business up in 1987 with his business partner and we have had close ties with Preston & Thomas ever since, servicing many of its ranges. We didn’t want to see such a high profile, British range manufacturer go under, so we decided to see if we could save it.
“We were so excited to have our offer accepted and very grateful to have this opportunity to keep the brand going.”
Rangetek, which is currently undergoing a rebrand to Preston & Thomas, purchased some of the plant and machinery from the Cardiff site while investing in additional equipment and extra staff. Already up and running at its Sevenoaks site in Kent, manufacturing has commenced and the first range is due to go into Burnham Fish Bar in Surrey in April.
The installation is a particularly poignant one as Donna explains: “My father was a service agent and one of the first ranges he installed 20 years ago was the one we’ll be taking out of Burnham Fish Bar to make way for this new one – our first.”
As well as a name change, Donna and Martin have ambitious plans to move the brand forward, including some improvements to the range itself.
Donna comments: “We know friers like the look and design of Preston & Thomas ranges, so we don’t plan to make many changes there for now. However, we come from an engineering background so we will be making a few tweaks to improve the performance.”
With new energy, enthusiasm and passion injected into the business, Donna is hopeful that it will manufacture and install up to 25 ranges in its first year alone.
She adds: “Although we are operating under a new name, we will continue to supply everything to the same quality that our customers would have expected prior to the takeover.”
Preston & Thomas 01372 727424 www.prestonandthomas.co.uk
RANGETEK IN NUMBERS
Business founded by Steven Saunders and Tom O’Neil
Business sold to employees of 15 years Martin and Donna Lewis
The business has clocked up 30 years' experience servicing, installing and updating ranges
Number of ranges serviced and repaired
Number of sites – manufacturing in Sevenoaks, Kent, and a head office in Epsom, Surrey