The East Anglian distributor landscape saw further consolidation yesterday after B.I. Catering Equipment Services agreed a deal to purchase the sales and service divisions of Peachman Catering Equipment in Norwich.
B.I. CES, which itself is based in Cambridge, has set up an entity called ‘Peachman Catering Equipment Services’ and intends to run the operation as a separate business. Both companies will be headed by B.I. CES’ managing director Andrew Jones.
The timing of the acquisition is particularly significant for B.I. CES as it recently won a major kitchen services contract with Norwich and Norfolk Hospital. The move will give it more capacity to handle that project and other maintenance-based agreements in future.
The deal also means a fresh start for Peachman’s catering equipment division after an unsettled period for the business. At one time the company was considered the largest kitchen house in Norfolk, but more recently it has found market conditions tough.
“Peachman in the past was a large design house and distributor that was well-known for quality design, sales, install and servicing to the East Anglia region, but unfortunately over the past few years it has lost its way,” said Jones. “Our intention is to rebuild the business in the same way we did with B.I. Services, ensuring customer service of the highest level to all existing and new customers.”
Peachman is traditionally known for its expertise in the refrigeration sector and also operates air conditioning and wholesale divisions. However, those parts of the business were not included in the sale and continue to trade under the existing ownership.
The takeover increases B.I. CES’ headcount by a further five people to 20 staff, with a new service manager due to start at the company next week as well.
Jones told Catering Insight that the Peachman name still carried a lot of weight in the Norfolk area and would give B.I. CES access to some significant contracts that it currently manages. However, the opportunity to strengthen its engineer base was the most attractive aspect of the deal.
“It works wonderfully well because the spread of the engineers give us a cover for the hospital contract in Norwich and means that we now have engineers that cover the whole of East Anglia, extending to Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. Our existing team at B.I. can now predominantly home in on the Cambridge area, strengthening the cover that we can offer.”
B.I Catering Equipment Services has been in operation for more than 30 years, providing servicing of catering equipment and the supply of new products. The company was bought by Jones, who previously headed Rational and Electrolux, four years ago.