Carford Group’s sale to laundry equipment giant JLA will give the Dorset-based catering equipment distributor a platform to “significantly grow” its business in the UK, the company has said.
Richard Weller, who was a shareholder in the business along with fellow director Nick Oryino, said the prospect of joining forces with JLA was one it couldn’t refuse, even though Carford was not actively seeking a buyer prior to the sale.
“We were approached and it was an opportunity for Nick and myself, but more importantly it was right for the company because it gives us the ability to significantly grow,” he explained. “We bought the business in 2001 and since then we have organically grown to where we are now. This is the next step and this will give us the investment and the impetus to grow even more.”
While the deal adds extra spice to the dealer market by outlining the seriousness of JLA’s ambitions in the catering equipment space, Weller insists that from an operational perspective it remains a case of “more of the same” for Carford.
“The Carford Group name will not disappear because that is what JLA has bought; they have bought the name, the brand and what it stands for. We are not looking to change what we do or what we offer, but obviously there are much greater opportunities for us as a group because of the combined resources. As far as the staff are concerned, it is all growth, growth, growth, as well as the opportunity and stability that this brings.”
One of the most compelling factors behind the tie-up would seem to be that JLA laundry customers will now be able to source catering equipment through Carford and vice-versa. Additionally, JLA gets access to more than 70 catering engineers, effectively reducing its dependence on sub-contracted labour.
The deal also presents a change in role for Weller, who was Carford’s commercial director. He will now become managing director of Carford and an employee of JLA. Nick Oryino, meanwhile, serves as a consultant for JLA, initially for a two-year period. Oryino is also currently the chairman of CESA.
Carford has close relationships with a number of catering equipment and refrigeration manufacturers, and Weller said the message to partners that have heard the news was quite simple: “Again, at the moment, everything is as is, and all we can see is growth. So from a supplier’s point of view, there will be more going through Carford and obviously JLA as a group, so I am sure there will be synergies as to what we are buying and the volumes we are buying.”
Carford is the fourth kitchen house that JLA has acquired in the latter half of this year, following on from the purchases of Red Squared, CKM and Proton-Washrite.
Earlier this week, JLA’s CEO, Stephen Baxter, said that the company could now offer a full range of commercial kitchen services, from full refits to single asset replacements, backed up with service response from over 200 engineers across the UK.
“The addition of Carford, along with Proton-Washrite, CKM and Red Squared has brought together some of the best people and expertise in the catering industry. We’re delighted to welcome them to the JLA Group and look forward to working together to deliver even better service to all of our customers,” he said.