Laundry equipment provider JLA today announced it is taking over The Carford Group in a move that offers the biggest signal yet of its intent to succeed in the catering market.
JLA officially launched its own catering equipment division in October, but has fast-tracked its presence in the market by making a series of acquisitions inside the past two months.
While Carford represents its biggest deal to date, the company has also recently purchased Rugby-based Red Squared, Cardiff-based CKM and Southampton-based Proton Washrite to bolster its strategy.
JLA has not disclosed the value of the Carford takeover, but the sheer size and scale of the Dorset-based business makes it one of the most significant M&A deals that the distributor market has seen for some time.
Carford employs 137 people, including 70 service engineers, and offers nationwide coverage in key markets such as healthcare, hospitality and education. In addition to a full planning and design consultancy service, it operates an in-house fabrication facility.
Carford’s managing director Nick Oryino will join JLA as a consultant and remain in his position as chairman of CESA.
Stephen Baxter, JLA’s CEO, said: “We were attracted to Carford because of the expertise they have, the regard they are held in and the people that have made them such a force in catering circles. On every level, they match our own ability and ambition, and their know-how and project design capabilities will allow us to offer a wider range of products and services to our customers.”
Despite only launching a catering division two months ago, Baxter said that JLA can now call on 200 engineers across the UK and a full range of commercial kitchen services as a result of the acquisitions.
He added that the creation of a catering division was in direct response to customer requirements.
“Over the years, as we’ve helped our customers in their laundries, the managers and staff we work with have constantly asked us to provide the same all-inclusive support in their kitchens too,” he said. “The critical nature of the equipment used in laundries and kitchens is similar and we are finding that customers welcome the fact we can now offer advice and support in more than one area of their business.”