Refrigeration dealer recovers from knock-out blow

A Worcestershire refrigeration firm claims to have posted its best ever set of financial results just three years after the loss of a major contract threatened to bring the company down.

Industrial Refrigeration Services (IRS) of Bromsgrove faced a major blow when a refrigeration maintenance contract it’d had with Cadbury for 17 years ended after the confectionery giant was acquired by Kraft Foods in 2010. At the time the deal accounted for some 65% of IRS’ income and half its workforce.

“That was a tough day,” managing director Mark Parsons told the Worcester News. “By the end of it we realised we had lost 65% of our business. We knew it was coming but it still left us in a state of shock.”

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However, the company has since bounced back from that setback after Parsons and his business partners sought the help of corporate advisory group CMC Partners at the end of last year. It carried out a detailed review of the business and put in place formal structures and processes to take the company forward.

The impact has been dramatic, with IRS winning a slew of new projects including the renewal and extension of a three-year contract with a major UK food producer, more than doubling its previous value, according to the paper.

Staff numbers have also grown to more than 20 people, putting it back on par with its headcount when it served Cadbury. The company has also managed to increase sales and profits to record levels, using its strength in innovative technology and engineering to win new business.

“Like so many small businesses, we were just running on gut instinct and had no real strategy,” Parsons added. “We are now in much better shape to respond to these opportunities.”

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