Holidays at home, the attractions of alfresco dining, tight leisure budgets and two new products should “add some heat to the UK market in 2012”, predict premium barbecue suppliers Outback in a look at the year ahead.

Outback chief executive Mark Osborne told Grocery Trader: “We finished last season about 8% above the previous year mainly due to strong early sales boosted by good weather, a late Easter and the Royal Wedding. I would expect this season to be flatter in terms of growth, buyers are being much more cautious going into this season, plus there is a level of carry over stock from 2011.

While hard economic conditions will continue, more consumers will manage tight leisure budgets by getting the most out of their garden and patio – and lighting-up the barbecue for an alfresco family meal or party for friends is an obvious leisure choice.

“Last year’s early summer sun helped our barbecues sell in record numbers, and we expect to add some  heat to the UK market with two new products aimed at increasing the popularity of our established range”, he said.

One new ‘hot property’ in the Outback range is the Comet Sear barbecue, which includes a ceramic side grill producing more than twice the heat of a conventional gas burner to seal-in meat flavours with a criss-cross finish.

And, with the business customer in mind, Outback has introduced the new 5 -burner Commercial barbecue to its range for 2012. Designed to provide the caterer, publican or party organiser with an alfresco menu selection for weddings, family celebrations, fund-raising and similar social occasions, the easy-to-store and collapsible barbecue is seen as an economical addition for event catering.

Last summer the company made a tasty impact on leisure industry commentators when lifestyle judges from consumer watchdog Which and newspaper the Mail on Sunday awarded a selection of Outback barbecues premium places in independent surveys.

Expert testers were invited by Which? to sample 22 barbecues from across the British supply chain, and they rated three Outback models as ‘Best Buys’, while the Mail on Sunday’s survey panel awarded Outback their only five-star accolade.

The Outback Spectrum 3 Burner Hooded Gas Barbecue, the Excel 300 Gas and the Omega 200 Charcoal Barbecue took top places with Which?, while the Mail singled out the Outback Gas Meteor as its only five-star buy, with a four-star rating for the Omega 200.

“With the celebrations surrounding the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee – and some summer sunshine – we plan to give our customers a tasty solution to suit their leisure budgets in the year ahead”, said Mark Osborne.

It is almost a year since shareholders and long-standing barbecue manufacturers TPA Metals and Machinery, based at Shenzhen in southern China, completed an agreed takeover of the UK Outback operation, previously a family-owned business with a track record going back to 1979. TPA are leading global manufacturers in the LPG domestic and commercial industries, supplying Calor, Shell and BP among others, and have a worldwide reputation and market for their barbecues, key gas and valve regulators, cylinders, heaters, and camper appliances.

For further information contact Mark Osborne, Outback UK   Tel: +44 (0) 2476 466461   Mobile: +44 (0)7795 422871   Email: mark@tpagas.com

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