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Airedale acquires servicing specialist Network

Network HQ 1 crop
Network’s headquarters is based in Halesowen.

Bradford-based distributor, Airedale Group, has acquired Network Catering Engineers.

Network was founded in 2000 by Tim Church, who remains the MD. The firm aims to deliver exceptional service to a broad customer base nationally across the UK. The business employs 90+ engineers and carries out maintenance services to in excess of 60 ‘chain’ customers.

As part of this deal, Airedale has made long term commitments to continue operating Network as a stand-alone business. The group detailed that all the existing Network management team will remain in place and will be fully responsible for driving and operating the business as normal.

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The distributor further emphasised that from a customer perspective there will be no change in Network personnel and all company contact details remain the same. Airedale identified its role as to help support Network with investment, advice and financial commitment.

Network’s Church said: “Whilst the business is thriving, with current revenue ahead of pre-pandemic levels, the management team’s long term strategy has been to secure investment to support our growth plans and to enable Network to truly fulfil its potential.

“Airedale is a powerhouse in our industry. It is a second generation family-run business employing over 350 people, including 200+ service engineers, and has consistently been acknowledged as the market leading end to end platform business in the UK today.”

Network’s MD believes that Airedale has a proven track record of successful acquisitions in the kitchen maintenance space, notably SCC in 2014 and Flowrite in 2019. He added: “What struck us during our extensive due diligence was how the management teams of these businesses have been supported and invested in post-acquisition, whilst the culture and brand identities have been retained.

“Just as importantly, Airedale really understands our industry and during our numerous conversations it has become clear that we have a shared vision for the future. We believe Airedale Group is the ideal home for Network and all of the Network team are fully committed to the business for the long term.”

Airedale Group’s CEO Rob Bywell said: “Rubicon’s investment in May last year, which included providing significant funding for further acquisitions, has given us the support to continue building a group of highly complementary brands that are specialists and leaders in their respective sectors. Network ticks all of these boxes; it is a specialist in servicing high end catering equipment, including accelerated cooking platforms and microwaves, and has further developed its capabilities into electrical and coffee machine maintenance.

“Network is also the foremost service provider to the Quick Service Restaurant industry. QSR is one of the fastest growing segments in the foodservice sector, both in the UK and internationally, and is widely predicted to experience double digit growth over the next 5-10 years.”

According to Bywell: “Alongside our previous acquisitions SCC (catering) and Flowrite (refrigeration), Network enhances what was already an unrivalled national commercial kitchen maintenance platform.

“Post-acquisition, the group will employ a combined total of over 300 national service technicians. We are absolutely delighted that Tim and the team have agreed to join the group.”

He concluded: “Network is the first acquisition since the Rubicon Partners investment and represents an excellent fit for both businesses in terms of capability, culture and the opportunity to better serve their customers.

“Rubicon is fully committed and supportive of our ambition to develop the business at pace through further investment in technology, scale and acquisitions. Rubicon has a strong track record of investing in family-run businesses like Airedale and we believe the combination of Rubicon’s experience together with Airedale’s strategy of building a group of complementary businesses that enhance each other creates a highly attractive proposition to business owners in this market.

“There are some exciting prospects in Airedale’s acquisition pipeline and, with a significant level of activity in the market at the moment, we look forward to continuing to deploy capital both in the UK and overseas.”

Tags : acquisitionairedaleAiredale Groupbusinessbuyoutdealerdistributornetworknetwork catering engineers
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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