Tag Archives: Servicing

07 
Nov

Fast Food and Mass Catering

Fast Food and mass catering industryFast food and mass catering may appear to be the invention of the 20th century but catering for the masses transcends millennia. Evidence has been excavated at the site of the Pyramids. This revealed a mess hall for the workers, long benches and tables and fish and meat bones. Armies throughout history were fed en masse (possibly not with the healthiest food but fed nonetheless) so catering as a trade has a long heritage.

The modern idea of fast food evolved with the inception of the motor industry where it became easier for people to pop into a store to buy a burger. By the 1950s in the USA, fast food was in full swing. It wasn’t long before heavy advertising and the introduction of children’s meals made it a firm favourite. Today, the global contribution of fast food outlet revenue is in the region of £500 billion.

Fast Food Growing

According to a recent report in the Guardian, the total number of takeaway food shops in England has risen by 4,000 in the past three years. This is an increase of 8%. There are currently 56,638 takeaways in England. They comprises more than 25% of all the country’s food outlets.

Many of the 326 local authorities in the UK have seen significant increases in the number of fast food outlets. Between 2014 and 2017, 20 record rises of more than 20%. Only 40 councils (12%) have seen the number of fast food outlets fall or stay the same.

Since 2012, the fast food and mass catering industry has performed relatively well. Takeaway operators have responded to higher levels of consumer expenditure by introducing higher quality food, often using organic produce and ensuring low-fat, low-sugar and low-salt meal options.

Despite the constant criticism of unhealthy and high calorific food content, fast food is still very popular . Reasons include affordable prices, busy lifestyles and increasing on-the-go consumption. There is also a much wider variety of products available to accommodate different dietary requirements.

Check Appliances

With any mass catering, the emphasis is on efficiency and hygiene. This is true whether it is for a fast food chain or a mess hall, hotel, hospital, airline or school. Too many instances of bad practice resulting in food poisoning or infection have been traced to bad habits in the kitchen or inadequate cooking facilities.

An oven, such as the Rational units, must not only cook the food but also synchronise the cooking of each individual element. It should also be fast and reliable in performance. In addition, the oven must be regularly serviced and checked. This is best as part of an ongoing maintenance regime to ensure top performance.

Contact AC Services on 01454 322222 if you are a fast food and mass catering organisation for appliance best practice .

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Published Date: 7th November 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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05 
Sep

SafeContractor Accreditation

SafeContractor AccreditationAC Services (Southern) has again received the SafeContractor accreditation. This seal of approval is issued by Alcumus and is testament to the company’s health and safety arrangements, policies and qualifications of contractors. This third party accreditation scheme confirms a company’s competency in the practice of health and safety.

AC Services received the accreditation following a stringent vetting process which examined all health and safety procedures and their track record for safe practice. It is used by thousands of organisations in the UK including SMEs and FTSE 100 companies.

Indeed there are a further 300 nationwide businesses, from several key industries, who have signed up for a separate scheme to select only accredited contractors for services including building, cleaning, maintenance, refurbishment or electrical and mechanical work.

Seal of Approval

AC Services will continue to use the SafeContractor seal of approval on their documentation and marketing material and will be included on the SafeContractor website, accessible only to registered users and signed up client organisations, enabling them to choose a potential accredited contractor.

Gemma Archibald, Director of Alcumus SafeContractor said: “Major organisations simply cannot afford to run the risk of employing contractors who are not able to prove that they have sound health and safety policies in place. More companies need to understand the importance of adopting good risk management in the way that AC Services has done. The firm’s high standard has set an example which hopefully will be followed by other companies within the sector.

Helen Hagger, MD of AC Services is delighted but not surprised at the accreditation. “We take health and safety extremely seriously and our organisation has adhered to the highest standards both in the office and in the field when we service our clients. We are proud to consistently employ best practice in our operations and the SafeContractors seal of approval is testament to this.

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Published Date: 5th September 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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25 
Jul

Save Money by Servicing and On-line Shopping

AC Services keeping chefs using Rational ovens happyClients often ask AC Services Southern why we recommend a full annual service on their Rational appliances. Surely regular cleaning and standard maintenance practices are enough to maintain the performance of the ovens?

The truth is that however much and however meticulously you clean your oven, like your own car, there is still the need for a regular Rational service to optimise or replace the parts which wear.

So for the diligent as well as those absent-minded oven owners out there, we have a solution. We have been using a new system since April. We now log when ovens are serviced and sending a timely reminder when the next service is due.

Service Essentials

At AC Services we like to give back to our loyal customers so read on to see how you can SAVE £10 on online orders. We are the Rational Service Partner for South West England and South Wales. Our team of engineers only repair and maintain Rational ovens and Frima Vario Cooking Centres. That places us in the very safe position of knowing exactly what we are looking for and what we are doing.

Our engineers have over 40 years’ experience between them and as we only work on two pieces of equipment, all the engineers have a van full of Rational original parts. What this means is that in the majority of cases (more than 95%), our engineers will have any parts that may be required so we will be able to quote you the price and fit them there and then, if given the go ahead.

So what happens in a service and how long does it take? Ideally, our engineers will spend at least 1½ hours and often two hours fully checking the appliance. Why so long? Check out the key points on our service checklist.

  • Installation,
  • Door function tests
  • Interior cabinet tests
  • Control panel function check
  • Exhaust/vent hood function test/commissioning
  • Electrical safety test
  • Water-drain function test
  • Steam generator electrical components
  • Gas specific parts
  • Gas analysis
  • Software update 

Cost Efficiency

The second question is cost. Is it cost effective in the long term?

The cost of a full Rational service carried out by one of our fully qualified Rational Engineers starts from £165 plus VAT (depending on age and size of the oven) plus the cost of any parts required, which are discussed and costed before fitting. Any extra hours are charged at £44 plus VAT, in increments of 15 minutes.

A breakdown or repair callout costs £121 plus VAT inclusive of the callout and one hour’s labour, with further labour charged at £44 per hour in increments of 15 minutes. For those who feel this is too much of a layout, just add up the costs of loss of business, of reputation, of loyal customers and of the profit margin should you be unable to use your oven to provide food for customers.

Customer Discounts

Finally, we love offering our customers discounts. So save £10 per shop on our range of Rational Cleaning, Rinse and Care Tablets for the relevant ovens and Rational Grill Cleaner using the code JUL10 in our on-line store before 12th August 2017.

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Published Date: 25th July 2017
Category: Blog, Cleaning, News, Service plan
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11 
Apr

Money for School Meals?

School meals fundingThere has been plenty of speculation in the media recently about schools. Labour has announced an ambitious plan to put VAT on private school fees and use the money to fund free meals for all primary school children.

No doubt this is a backlash against Theresa May’s plan to bring back grammar schools but it has inevitably caused some disagreement.

According to the National Association of Head Teachers, school budgets are currently “at breaking point”. Some schools, faced with their first real-terms spending cuts in decades, are making staff redundant. There are more pupils to every class and some subjects are being scrapped.

So parents are understandably a bit sceptical about Labour blowing £1.5 billion on lunches.

New Build Schools

However, the government has already pledged to build more schools, among them 140 new free schools which are destined to create a further 70,000 new places. This comes on the back of the pledge to create more grammar schools. The budget allocated for the changes is £500 million. But existing schools may require a lot more to bring themselves up to the standard of the new ones.

Teaching unions have said that although £216 million has been set aside in maintenance and refurbishment grants, as much as £6.7 billion is needed to return all school buildings to a good condition.

The government’s £0.5B package is also earmarked for public transport costs or minibuses for children from poorer families to go to grammar schools that are between two and fifteen miles from their homes.

School Meals Investment

All government-funded schools must offer free school meals to every pupil in reception, year 1 and year 2 and the funding is and will continue to be £2.30 per meal.

For kitchens, this money can go further with a bit of imagination and the right appliance for the cooking. When buying capital items, it is always good to consider all costs not just the ticket price of the oven. A reliable and well-known model such as the Rational oven range cuts down on maintenance and enhances performance. With a maintenance plan with AC Services (Southern), schools can be assured of immediate service should anything go wrong, and a routine service on a regular basis.

There are other ways of making the money go further. Create more exciting recipes and cook from scratch using healthy ingredients such as vegetables. Reduce wastage by investing in an oven that can keep food at the correct temperature throughout the meal serving times.

There is no way of predicting the future of the educational system, but if you are involved in school meals, then at least preempt any proposed changes and make sure that you are equipped with the most appropriate and up-to-date kitchen knowledge.

Call the team at AC Services to see how we can service and maintain your Rational and Frima equipment economically on 01454 322 222.

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Published Date: 11th April 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Ovens, Rational
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10 
Jan

New Year Resolution- Get Rational Oven Service Sorted

Rational oven cleaning and pre- Christmas serviceWhat happened to Christmas? Where did it go? How is it possible that we are already in the second week of January? Only 330 odd days to go now before the next one though so worry not.

This year, we had a steady and busy season here at AC Services (Southern) with thankfully no major crises. Although as always, we had a spattering of panic calls, in the main from those who did not heed our advice to pre-book a service before Christmas.

Sadly, it happens every year so now we are calling for everyone with a Rational oven to make a communal New Year’s resolution: call us NOW and arrange a service package for 2017.

We recommend that you have your ovens serviced at least once a year and ideally twice. We have three packages that suit all budgets, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Silver, Gold and Platinum

The Silver Maintenance Contract is designed to cover labour costs for those customers, who have a limited budget. The response time is 24 hours and breakdown calls are attended seven days per week. We provide two preventative maintenance visits per year at six monthly intervals as well as a first time fix policy and we work to an agreed budget on spare parts when required.

The Gold Maintenance Plan is for Rational ovens under 10 years old and offers a more comprehensive and increased level of parts and labour cover. Again, the package offers 24 hour response time, with breakdown calls attended seven days per week. Under this plan, we guarantee to replace most parts that fail under the maintenance period up to the value of £1,000 per visit (genuine and original Rational parts used and some exclusions do apply)

Finally the Platinum Maintenance Contract is available for our customers, who require an individual tailored plan to meet their Rational oven servicing needs.

Prices Held

And as an incentive, we are honouring the 2016 price of each package, which begin at £900 until the end of February. We are reviewing the contract prices for implementation at the beginning of April.

AC Services (Southern) is responsible for servicing a number of Rational ovens within the southwest region and according to Helen Hagger, MD at AC Services, one of the main priorities is educating the owners about the benefits of regular servicing.

Even though some ovens may still be in warranty, we advise a twice-yearly service,” she advises. “This is a great time to get ovens serviced ready for the next busy period, which is Valentine’s Day next month and look into having a contract where ovens are serviced twice yearly.

For further details and a no obligation quote for your Rational oven maintenance contract telephone 01454 322222 or email us today on service@acservicessouthern.co.uk

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Published Date: 10th January 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Service plan
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10 
May

Opportunities for Schools and Colleges

Kitchen Opportunities for Schools and collegesTimes are changing within the education market. Debate was raging on about the decision of the government to turn all schools into academies by 2020 until last week’s unforeseen u-turn. But the threat is still there with a shift from all to most.

Speculation is rife over the ongoing fate of local authorities, once the sole provider of budgets and control over schools. What it means is that schools and colleges will be increasingly responsible for their own budgeting.

This is all very well with items such as school equipment, paper, books and associated purchases. There are already established and specialist vendors for these types of materials. But when it comes to buying kitchen equipment, many schools and colleges are inexperienced and frankly, don’t know where best to turn.

The purchase of a catering appliance is vastly different from buying a domestic oven. And once the purchase has been made, it doesn’t end there. An oven has to be regularly serviced and maintained to prevent any unforeseen catastrophes occurring which, in schools and colleges, could mean a lot of pupils going hungry!

Kitchen Refurbishment

Since September 2014, all schools have to provide free school lunches for pupils who qualify. This has meant that educational establishments have been busier with kitchen refurbishment and upgrade than ever before.

Historically, AC Services (Southern) has been responsible for maintaining a number of Rational ovens within the region. Currently we have been requested to service 42 schools with some 70 appliances total across Gloucestershire on a contract that has recently been renewed.

But our experience of the educational sector’s needs is much wider ranging from Oxford colleges, private schools to FE colleges with many on one of our maintenance contracts .

Regular Servicing

According to Helen Hagger, MD at AC Services, one of the main priorities is educating the owners about the benefits of regular servicing.

Many ovens may be in warranty still but they also need a regular service to make sure they are working properly and performing to their optimum levels,” she advises. “We are dedicated to working with our customers in the education sector to ensure that all schools and colleges comply with the standards for food that the government and other organisations demand.

Rational App

In addition, Rational is helping make life easier for cooks with the recent launch of a new app allowing users of the Rational SelfCookingCenter to operate the system from an iPhone or iPad. If connected to the same network, the screen content of the SelfCookingCenter is transferred and displayed in full to the remote device.

This app is extremely useful to school cooks and head chefs who are juggling other responsibilities,” continues Helen. “As a long-term partner with Rational, we are doing our bit by ensuring that the ovens are serviced regularly.

We have a range of service packages to suit every budget, and our aim is to make owners and decision-makers schedule downtime for the appliances for maintenance. So whether you are primary school, academy, private or public school, university or further education establishment, as long as you are in our area we can help you.”

So give Helen and the team a call on 01454 322 222 to find out more.

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Published Date: 10th May 2016
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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02 
Feb

Online Sales with AC Services

Rational oven online sales and serviceFebruary is now upon us and here at AC Services, we appreciate the benefits of value for money. So this month, we are holding a couple of sales.

Times are always tight, but if you are a Rational oven owner, you know that cutting corners for financial reasons is a recipe for disaster and AC Services are here to help.

Online Sales

The first offer is online purchases where using the voucher code rationalonline will get you £10 plus VAT off your purchases. Bear in mind that there are a number of events coming up in the following weeks, including Valentine’s Day and the start of the Six Nations rugby, so take full advantage of this offer until the end of February 2016 and stock up with essential supplies. We can supply items throughout the UK, but this offer is limited only to online sales.

AC Services (Southern) provides a full range of Rational cleaning products. It depends on the type of your Rational oven to determine the correct Rational cleaning products to use. Remember, if you have more than one oven, then you may need different cleaning product combinations.

The online sales offer applies to the following Rational cleaning tabs, rinse tabs, liquid cleaner and spray guns:

  • Cleaner Tabs: highly concentrated tablets specially developed with a new complex set of active ingredients designed to guarantee maximum cleaning power.
  • Care Tabs: with special scale-dissolving ingredients contained to prevent limescale building up, giving reliability without a water softener and the need for time-consuming descaling.
  • Rinse Aid Tabs: (SE Models) highly effective care products ensuring active protection.
  • We also provide liquid Grill Cleaner and liquid Rinse Aid (for CPC units) as well as other items such as a hand spray gun for manual cleaning of CM units.

Sale on Servicing

The second fabulous offer is £20 plus VAT off the normal service price. With a normal service starting at £195 plus VAT, this deal is not to be disregarded.

It is valid for all Rational oven service calls completed by 31st March as long as the Rational oven is within the counties and postcodes covered by ACS. These are Avon, Berkshire, Bristol, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.

All you have to do is phone the office on 01454 322 222 to confirm costs and times and quote ‘Ready for Spring‘.

Your Sale Choice

Since we introduced the online sales section to our website, the response has been fantastic, with the online store providing ease and simplicity for the ordering process.

You can also find hints and tips to keep your Rational oven in perfect condition, but should you have any worries, simply take advantage of the £20 discount on servicing and gear up for the rest of this quarter with the knowledge that your oven at least won’t let you down!

If you’re in any doubt please telephone us now on 01454 322222.

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Published Date: 2nd February 2016
Category: Blog, Cleaning, Cleaning Products, News, Online Sales, Service plan
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08 
Dec

Prima with FRIMA

AC Services FRIMA service partnerFRIMA began life in France in 1938. In 1985 the company produced the FRIMAX®, the first multifunctional cooking appliance based on contact heat. Building on the success of the quality of its products and the advanced technology employed in their manufacture, in 2014 FRIMA installed its 15,000th VarioCooking Center® , demonstrating the popularity of the range to an international market.

In 1992 FRIMA joined Rational and today the emphasis is still firmly focussed on excellence in the cooking arena.

In 2008 the FRIMA UK sales team was established and, in the same year, A C Services became a service partner with the company.

According to FRIMA UK MD, Graham Kille, the future is bright indeed for the London-based company, which has seen a 50% increase in sales in the past year. “We are growing rapidly, with a sales team of five, which we are expecting to expand,” he comments. “The UK is catching on to the fact that a multifunctional kitchen is the way forward in all sectors, and that the VarioCooking Center can enhance cooking results.”

Perfect Cooking

Using VarioCooking Control®, the appliance’s built-in cooking intelligence, daily work is simplified and time-consuming routine chores, such as constant monitoring of the food and temperature adjustments, are eliminated. Boiling, frying and deep frying takes place all in one unit, up to four times as fast and with 40% less power consumption. As the company’s website says, “The cooking process is always matched to the food, however big or small the item, and however many portions!”

FRIMA has a wide range of clients, from primary schools to sports stadiums to Michelin starred restaurants. Currently the most successful sector is in education. “Schools and colleges have really taken on board the value of the VarioCooking Center experience,” he continues. “For example, the cost efficiency is up there alongside energy efficiency: why buy a separate chip fryer when the VarioCooking Center has one included?

Pioneering modern cooking technology and energy efficiency is FRIMA’s aim. “It’s all about embracing smaller footprints in the kitchen, as well as reducing energy consumption,” explains Graham. “And there is a growing realisation that there is no better way to do this than with a VarioCooking Center.”

FRIMA offers live cooking demonstrations across the UK to present and road test the equipment. The company also offers a free four week trial, in customers’ own kitchens, so they can see for themselves what a difference a FRIMA appliance can make.

At AC Services we are delighted to be partnering FRIMA as a service partner and helping the company to grow. Like an increasing number of UK chefs, we believe the VarioCooking Center offers the most advanced, efficient and cost effective way to reduce the carbon footprint in the kitchen, while enhancing the quality of the food.

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Published Date: 8th December 2015
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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02 
Jun

Rational Oven Care

AC Services keeping chefs using Rational ovens happyIf you have a car, you get it serviced. If you have a house, you take out insurance. Let’s face it if you have teeth, you at least have an annual check up! Because if anything happens, then you are without transport and shelter (or teeth) and inevitably, you incur unnecessary costs and delays. So if your Rational oven is your livelihood, then it makes sense to insure yourself by getting it regularly serviced.

Regularly servicing can be different for every oven, depending on lead times, size, model, output and usage and perhaps more importantly, budget. AC Services (Southern) believes strongly in maintenance contracts. Each purchase of an oven from Rational comes automatically with a one year warranty and you can register for a second year free. And when that is up, then there are plenty of options. In fact, because we have such a range of clients, from small caterers to international restaurant chains we have put in place three options.

Rational Oven Maintenance Plans

Gold Maintenance Plan

• Designed for Rational ovens under 10 years old
• A more comprehensive and increased level of parts and labour cover
• 24 hour response time
• Breakdown calls attended 7 days per week
• Replace most parts that fail under the maintenance period up to the value of £1,000 per visit (genuine and original Rational parts used and some exclusions do apply)
• Two preventative maintenance visits per year at six monthly intervals.

Silver Maintenance Contract

• Designed to cover labour costs for those customers, who have a limited budget,
• 24 hour response time
• Breakdown calls attended 7 days per week
• Two preventative maintenance visits per year at six monthly intervals
• First time fix policy
• Work to an agreed budget on spare parts when required

Platinum Maintenance Contract

• Available for our customers, who require an individual plan to meet their Rational oven servicing needs
• Individually tailored to meet the specific maintenance needs of rational oven owners
• 24 hours response time
• Breakdown calls attended, 7 days per week
• First time fix policy
• Genuine and original Rational parts used.

There simply is no substitute for regular maintenance, and this is coming from a company that has been servicing Rational ovens for decades! On too many occasions, we have heard the excuse that budget cannot be found for a maintenance contract, but the initial outlay easily beats the costs incurred when an oven fails suddenly: lost business, lost customers, lost revenue . . .

There’s a summer of sport and events coming up so if you are planning to cater for the public this year and want to continue to do so for years to come, find out more right now about how an ACS annual maintenance contract is the best option for maintaining your Rational oven; how it can save you money and increase profits.

Talk to one of the sales team on 01454 322222 or visit the AC Services (Southern) website for more information.

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Published Date: 2nd June 2015
Category: Blog, News, Service plan
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05 
May

The Rational Life of Pie

Pieminister Chicke of Aragon pieAs a nation we love pies. Pork pies, savoury pies, apple pies, even Mrs Tweedy’s chicken pies, and a company in Bristol has perfected not only the recipe but the execution of producing the perfect pastry.

The company is Pieminister which makes all of its pies in Bristol, sourcing local ingredients from as close to its South West base as possible. Not only does it only use free range British chicken and pork but it is the only British pie company to hold three Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards from Compassion in World Farming! Now those are the ingredients of a good pie maker.

And of course, the company only uses the best ovens. The Rational CPC, which have been solid, reliable and utterly invaluable over the past seven years in the kitchens based in Westbury-on-Trym where they make the pies. Indeed, according to Geoff Martin, the Engineering Manager, the support from AC Services (Southern), has saved the bacon quite literally, on a few occasions.

Recipe for Success

All equipment goes wrong at some point, usually at the most inconvenient time,” he comments. “For a company like ours, not only supplying pies daily to shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes, but also to events such as weddings and festivals, oven failure is the biggest concern.

Geoff has been using A C Services for the last three years on an ad hoc basis, which means that should anything go wrong, then a call to AC Services is all that is required. He readily admits that over this time, the response has been excellent; even at the last minute, when he has had an emergency, an engineer is immediately dispatched. “The level of service is fantastic and the engineers are very professional in the way they go about their work,” he enthuses.

Wedding Drum Pie

And only last week Pieminister saw its hard work pay off with the award of the prestigious Gold Medal for 2015 in this year’s Innovation Class at the British Pie Awards,  making it into the top three Bride’s Pies with its Wedding Drum Pie.

What is a Wedding Drum Pie, you may ask? The Pieminister Wedding Drum Pie is the inspiration of the founder of the company, Tristan Hogg, and comprises a “drum of silky smooth olive oil pastry which is filled with Ziti pasta, tender meatballs, chunks of Genoa salami and Provolone, Picante and Pecorino sardo cheese and quails eggs, combined with a painstakingly slow-cooked rich Ragu sauce made with beef shin, pork ribs, fresh oregano, garlic and plenty of Chianti.” Not just any old pie, then.

Pieminister has gained a well-deserved reputation for taste and innovation, with its pies found throughout the UK, from prestigious restaurants in the heart of trendy London to farmers markets in the South West to the fields of Glastonbury and other festivals. At the core of the operations however, lies its kitchens, where day after day, succulent pies are conceived, created and baked using Rational technology and relying upon AC Services (Southern)’s support.

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Published Date: 5th May 2015
Category: Blog, Case Study, News
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