JLA makes Harmony its fifth dealer acquisition

Acquisitive laundry and catering group JLA has described Harmony Business & Technology as a “perfect match” for its own business following its recent acquisition of the Cumbria-based company.

The takeover continues a remarkable spending spree by JLA, which has now bought five distributors in the past 12 months.

Last year it acquired Carford Group, Red Squared, CKM and Proton Washrite as part of a strategy to rapidly scale the catering division it launched in October 2013.

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Harmony Business & Technology is a leading independent catering equipment distributor and service provider run by Mike Welsh.

It has been established for more than 30 years and is regarded as a major player in the supply and servicing of commercial kitchen equipment.

Key market sectors for the company include care homes, hotels and education with a customer base that spans Cumbria, North Lancashire, Yorkshire and Scotland.

After tying up the Harmony deal, JLA claims its catering division will head into its new financial year as the “largest independent catering equipment and service supplier in the UK”.

Stephen Baxter, CEO of JLA, said that Harmony’s expertise and experience would enhance the service it offers.

“We were attracted to Harmony because of the expertise they have, the regard they are held in and the people that have made them successful,” he commented. “They are a perfect match for our own business and we look forward to enjoying continued growth as we combine our ideas and experience.”

Harmony’s MD, Mike Welsh, told Catering Insight this morning that he was excited about joining forces with JLA. “We all believe the future presents tremendous opportunities for both businesses and we’re looking forward to continuing to deliver great service to all our customers” he said.

West Yorkshire-based JLA claims its catering division has “broken the mould of the catering industry” by offering Total Care, a unique rental package that includes the supply of equipment with a completely inclusive service and breakdown cover for a simple monthly payment.

Katie Horan, head of catering at JLA, insists that with no capital expenditure needed and an engineer response guarantee, the concept is proving popular with customers.

“Total Care gives our customers the peace of mind that they’ll never have to pay for another repair bill and never have to wait for an engineer to turn up. In a busy kitchen environment these are the things that make a difference,” she said.

The JLA Group operates four main divisions – Laundry, Catering, Medical and Detergents. It employs more than 600 employees and 200 engineers across eight UK offices.

Harmony Business & Technology is the second distributor from Kendal in Cumbria to be acquired during the course of the past month.

Last week saw Catering Partnership sold to Northern Shire FM, a kitchen ventilation cleaning specialist from Preston that is looking to expand into the catering equipment supply market.

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