EXCLUSIVE: Nisbets opens up about Space takeover

Nisbets’ Bristol HQ will gradually work closer with Space Catering.

Nisbets MD, Paul McMahon, has detailed the company’s reasons for purchasing a controlling stake in Gloucester-based distributor, Space Catering, last month.

“Previously, Space’s founder, Mike Mellor, set up a vendor initiated management buyout (VIMBO), selling a controlling interest to the company’s management, so it was always a natural, logical conclusion that he might sell the business at some point in the future,” McMahon explained.

“We started tentative conversations with them last summer and things escalated from there.

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“Space is expert at design and installation, but it doesn’t sell light equipment like we do. Up until now we haven’t done design and installation, so it is an obvious link-up.”

He added: “Perhaps more importantly, the cultures of both companies are very similar – it’s a really good fit and I know we are going to get on really well.”

McMahon was full of praise for Space’s accomplishments, too: “It has been growing and doing really well, plus it has nearly achieved its turnaround plan for Holmes Catering Equipment Solutions [which Space rescued from administration in 2014].”

On Nisbets’ plans for the dealer, he revealed: “At the moment we are going to do nothing.

“The difficulty so far has been holding people back – our on the road sales force team are tripping over leads every day, but if we suddenly hit Space with all the opportunities that we get, it could overwhelm the company.

“It’s got to be a slow introduction; slowly the two sales teams will gradually work closer together and ramp Space’s business up.

“If we can make the ‘marriage’ work, then the logical first thing to do is to make Space a national company.”

He concluded: “Nisbets’ staff will mostly see no difference, but in time our national sales force will be able to offer a whole new design and installation service.”

Look out for Catering Insight’s exclusive full interview with McMahon in our July print issue.

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