Just pipped to the top of Catering Insight’s top 10 UK kitchen houses by turnover is JLA.
We have to tread carefully when trying to pick our way through the company’s financial performance. While the overall JLA Group figures are the ones the servicing specialist generally puts out to the world, this encompasses its laundry and consumables divisions as well as catering equipment sales, rental and maintenance. The latest publicly available accounts for the overall Ripponden-based group show that revenue grew by 9.5% to £106.9m in the 12 months to 31 October 2016.
However, for our purposes in comparing purely the catering equipment channel results, we have focused in on the JLA Ltd subsidiary, which we understand only involves part of the catering and laundry divisions. So while we can’t precisely define how much of this data is for catering equipment, JLA Ltd is probably more of an accurate indicator than the whole group results.
Therefore, the results tell us that this entity saw its revenue for the 12 months to 31 October 2016 fall by 12% to £33.8m. JLA pinned the drop from the 2015 figure of £38.5m on being “driven by a re-focusing of the range of catering products offered, to focus on assets that provide an acceptable gross margin”. This is because the firm decided to cease trading of its design and build and light equipment operations within its catering division, as these discontinued operations made an operating loss of £2m in the prior year.
This has impacted the operating profit figures we see here, with a £4.4m loss recorded in the 12 months to 31 October 2016. Nevertheless, we are reliably informed that the catering division itself has recorded double digit growth, year on year.
JLA inherited design and build departments from the seven dealers it bought out within an 18 month period: Carford, Red Squared, CKM, Proton Washrite, Harmony Business & Technology, Comcat Engineering and Newco Catering Equipment. At the end of 2017 it dipped a toe in the manufacturer owning waters, buying out DC Warewashing & Icemaking systems.