Between 1978 and 1986 H&K’s only European manufacturing and distribution facility was in Dublin, Ireland. Fabrication output was relatively small during this period with back-up supplies coming from the original H&K factory in Toronto, Canada. McDonald’s development of new restaurants in Europe was growing. UK, French and Dutch markets were starting to expand at a significant rate and stores in new countries were being opened up every year. We needed to increase our fabrication capacity in Europe and to get closer to our main markets. It was decided that a UK base would greatly strengthen our position with our biggest customers.
Rugby was selected as a base following research into various locations. There were empty factories available to rent. The location was well-positioned for the UK motorway network, was centrally located in England and close to Birmingham airport.
We opened in Chariot Way in 1986 on the outskirts of Rugby in a 2000m2 unit with two welders, a plant manager and a secretary. We started to assemble cut pieces that were originally shaped in Canada.
H&K in Rugby gradually expanded, recruited new employees, trained a workforce and installed the necessary manufacturing plant – punches, press-brakes etc. A laser machine was installed in Roman Way in 1988 which was one of the first in the UK.
An engineering team, refrigeration capabilities and installation support were shortly integrated and became key parts of the operation.
We received a lot of support from personnel within the global H&K Group and before long the Rugby plant was capable of producing the full range of McDonald’s equipment.
In 1991 we transferred the Chariot Way and Roman Way activity into a 6000m2 single location at Cosford Lane. The unit was divided so both manufacturing and logistic activities could operate within the one facility. Today, this building remains our European centre for manufacturing.
Manufacturing and logistical activities increased over the subsequent years, especially with the numbers of new store kitchen shipments, remodels kitchen orders and resupply kitchen parts support. The requirement for a dedicated warehouse facility became a necessity and in 1996 Unit B was set up as a 4500m2 warehouse/offices facility. This hub is approx. 500m from the fabrication facility at Cosford Lane & it became our European consolidation hub for the next 18 years.
Business activity continued to grow across all our European business, such that we outgrew the Unit B facility. We moved to Unit G warehouse in 2014 as our new consolidation hub. It is a 12000m2 facility with offices facilities, 12 dropped loading bays, a higher ceiling to facilitate a better racking set-up, and is 750m from the Cosford Lane factory.
So much has happened in the last 30 years, and if you are visiting us don’t hesitate to ask around. There are 24 employees today in the Rugby operation that have more than 20 years of service, one of whom joined in 1986! I am sure they all have lots of stories to tell.
Today, between the manufacturing plant and the warehouse operation, we are employing almost 200 people. We want to thank all who have been part of this fantastic journey; our employees, customers and business partners.