JLA has strenuously denied suggestions that a major restructuring of the Carford Group is taking place amidst claims from within the market that it is reviewing the future of the Dorset-based catering equipment distributor.
Speculation about changes to the Carford business has intensified in recent weeks and while market talk of the company’s closure would appear to be ill-founded, sources close to the business have suggested JLA is planning to halt all project work, leaving just the servicing side of the business in operation.
One source believed that JLA felt the acquisition of Carford was a “mistake”, and that a number of staff on the contracting side of the distributor had now been served notice after being summoned to a company meeting a few weeks ago.
However, JLA’s marketing director, Liam Grant, dismissed the speculation and said the rumours were baseless.
He told Catering Insight: “Carford is not closing down and it’s certainly not being sold. It’s not changing any more than any other part of our business is. We’ve got some centralised functions, which you would expect, but there’s absolutely still a base at Carford. There are still project managers and technical sales managers there.
“In the past 3 years we have acquired seven catering businesses in different locations, and clearly there are benefits to the group as a whole to bring some of those operations together. So there have been some commercial decisions but nothing in terms of closing parts of the business down.”
Grant added that JLA’s catering division is growing on a weekly basis. He said: “We offer a number of different services, total care being one, which is machine supply and servicing, as well as a full suite of servicing products. Going forward, our focus is on total care and service sales but we will still be doing some project work when it makes sense with the right types of customers.”
JLA acquired Carford Group in December 2013 for an undisclosed sum. With 137 staff, including 70 service engineers, the deal represented a statement of JLA’s intent to replicate its strength in the laundry market in the catering arena.
Stephen Baxter, JLA’s CEO, said at the time that Carford was an ideal fit with its business: “We were attracted to Carford because of the expertise they have, the regard they are held in and the people that have made them such a force in catering circles. On every level, they match our own ability and ambition, and their know-how and project design capabilities will allow us to offer a wider range of products and services to our customers.”