Catering equipment servicing firm JLA has posted its first financial results covering the pandemic period.
It’s a little difficult to compare the latest figures to previous years though, as prior to the company’s buyout by private equity firm Cinven in 2018, JLA’s overall revenue (incorporating laundry, heating and air conditioning, and fire safety divisions, as well as catering) was recorded in an umbrella parent company, JLA Equityco. This has now shifted over to an entity called JLA Midco, which was incorporated in May 2018 as the takeover was taking place.
Nevertheless, the latest financial results for JLA Midco cover the 12 months to 31 October 2020, during which time the overall group generated £137.4m. The prior accounting period was the 17 months between 14 May 2018 and 31 October 2019. Revenue generated during that period was £170.3m, so extrapolating a 12-month average from that of £120.2m would indicate that the latest available figures show a broadly positive performance.
However, when contrasted with the operating profit figures, the picture is more troubling. During the previous 17-month window JLA Midco recorded a £13.3m loss, and in the latest reported year that loss increased to £17.9m.
In the annual report, Daniel Tanase, principal at JLA parent company Cinven, emphasised: “The group took early action to protect the financial health of the business against the impact of Covid-19 while at all times preserving its ability to honour its customer commitments. The group has benefitted from the furlough job retention scheme and has also made organisational changes through a redundancy programme in response to a decline in demand in the hospitality industry specifically.
“A dedicated team has ensured the safety of all employees through the period and the group has adapted well to home working and the increased protections put in place. The group has experienced a very low incidence of employee absence as a result of the virus and monitors critical KPIs on an ongoing basis. As a result of the above measures the group has shown resilience through the national lockdown in 2021.”
During the reporting period, the group continued its expansion via five strategic acquisitions in its heating and fire divisions, and one in catering, for a total cash consideration of £15.1m. The catering acquisition was for Hull-based kitchen ventilation cleaning company Crystal Surface, which joined the group on 21 August 2020.
Tanase further stated: “The board has developed a very clear strategic vision which is being successfully deployed within the business. The vision is that JLA is a trusted partner to its customers. The strategy will look to continue to grow market share within the existing core business segments, along with identifying opportunities for growth in adjacent markets through both organic product and service development and strategic acquisitions.
“The group will continue to provide a complete product supply and service solution to support its customer base, both existing and new, through the whole lifecycle of various critical assets that are operated within their business. Through the group’s unique sales infrastructure and national service support capability, it will bring new product offerings to the existing customer base and gain market share within adjacent markets.
“The group’s ambitious growth plans are underpinned by a robust deployment plan which has allowed the business to cascade the strategy down through the organisation.”
In recent years, the Ripponden, West Yorkshire-headquartered firm has seen personnel changes at the top. Stephen Baxter stepped down as CEO in January 2019. His replacement, Helen Ashton, then herself resigned in September last year, at which point the chief financial officer, Ben Gujral, stepped up to the helm.