Airedale Group completes management buy-out

Bradford-based kitchen house Airedale Group has been acquired by the management team for an undisclosed sum.

As part of the buy-out the management secured investment from private equity firm Rockpool Investments, which is headed by high-flying financier Nicola Horlick.

Rob Bywell, CEO of Airdale, said: “This is an exciting time for everyone at Airedale and all our stakeholders. Having Rockpool as an investing partner is a fantastic step forward and provides us with a depth of experience from a large network of successful entrepreneurs who can help to support our future expansion plans.”

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As well as Bywell, the MBO management team is understood to include Malcolm Ritchie, Ian Sisson, Paul Woodford and Michael Gordge.

The exiting shareholders are John Rhodes, Peter Bywell and Basil Miran. They will all remain in the business post deal.

“We recognise the value and support that the former shareholders can continue to provide, and we are delighted that we are retaining their experience,” said Bywell. “However, critical to our future success is attracting the best candidates. As part of the management buy-out we have set up an attractive share incentive scheme to benefit all those involved in the next part of the journey. Reward, recognition and promoting a culture of innovation right across the group is key.”

Established in 1986, Airedale boasts a large client base including independent operators, local and national public bodies, main contractors and FTSE 100 Companies.

Over the last 18 months, the group claims to have seen a “significant upturn” in business as a result of the strategic vision implemented by the new management team.

It now operates nationwide from four separate offices in the UK and has grown its workforce to almost 85 staff in the same period, a 20% increase. Airedale says it completed more than 750 individual design and build projects last year, ranging from small refurbishments to schemes in excess of £1m.

Local press reports say Airedale’s turnover has risen from £10m to £18m over the past three years.

Alan Armstrong, senior partner and head of private equity from Rockpool, says it provided financing for the MBO after recognising its strong position in the market and potential for further growth.

“The business has an excellent reputation in its market place, with a host of recognisable market leading customers,” he said. “The group designs, builds, manufacturers and installs high quality commercial kitchens and offers a first-class service to its growing customer base.”

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