Airedale launches venture with former DCE owners

The former owners of Stockport kitchen house Design Catering Equipment (DCE), which went into administration last month, are launching a new venture backed by The Airedale Group.

Stephen Hewitt and Robin Williamson will spearhead the new business, which has secured the backing and support of Bradford-based Airedale. It will be called The Design House and operate from newly-acquired premises in Lymm, Cheshire.

Airedale, which employs 100 people across five UK offices, confirmed that The Design House will specialise in the design and build of catering and hospitality facilities nationwide.

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Rob Bywell, group chief executive of Airedale, said: “Stephen and Robin are two of the most experienced and dedicated people I have met in our sector. More importantly they are both very passionate about the work they do, and clearly care about providing clients with highest standard of service.

“They have lots of great ideas on how they want to develop and I have no doubt that The Design House will move quickly from being an emerging business to becoming an established and innovative brand.”

DCE, which was set up in 1990, went into administration in mid-March, employing around 25 people. The administration was handled by business restructuring firm BDO.

The former owners said today they were pleased to be returning to the market.

Hewitt said today: “We are delighted to be back in the industry that we know and love, and to be supported by a business with a strong infrastructure and reputation like Airedale means we are able to focus purely on what we are good at and what we enjoy.”

Williamson added: “Steve and I have worked hard over the past 10 years fostering and developing great relationships with clients and suppliers in the foodservice sector. Together we have successfully designed, manufactured and project managed the installation of well over £50m of catering facilities across the UK. The response from the marketplace has been overwhelming and our ambition and desire has never been stronger. We look forward to working with the team at Airedale, and to building an exciting and innovative brand.”

Airedale’s clients include independent operators, local and national public bodies, main contractors and FTSE 100 Companies. Projects range from a small cafe refurbishment to total catering fit-outs in excess of £1m.

The company recently hired former Autobar Group chief executive, Andrew Bristow, as its new group chairman and he said the launch of The Design House was “great news” for its stakeholders.

“It demonstrates the entrepreneurial culture that has been fostered within Airedale, and I look forward to working with the team as they look for opportunities to develop the business and brand,” he said.

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