Leading school meals specialist Alliance in Partnership (AiP) has acquired a complementary business, The Contract Dining Company based in Kent, in a deal which will help it to expand its reach in the South East.
Based in Headcorn, near Maidstone, The Contract Dining Company was established in 2004 and provides catering services to 53 schools in Kent, delivering more than 8,000 meals a day. With a 231 strong team, the business has grown to a turnover of £4m based on its ethos of only using high quality ingredients, locally sourced wherever possible, in its freshly prepared, healthy menus. The Contract Dining Company management team, including founder Anne Winn, will remain with the company following the deal.
The company’s acquisition by AiP sees it join one of the largest education catering specialists in the UK. Over the last 19 years, AiP has expanded from its Oldbury, West Midlands base to provide over 75,000 meals a day in primary and secondary schools and colleges nationwide.
Paul Rogers, managing director of AiP, explains: “The addition of The Contract Dining Company to the AiP family will enable us to further strengthen our presence in the South East, giving us a strong foothold in Kent following our recent contract wins in London. There’s also a close cultural fit between the two businesses as we both share a focus on providing fresh, healthy and nutritious meals for schools.
“The combined group will now serve over 400 schools and colleges throughout the UK and will have combined sales of £33m, making us a major player in the education catering sector.”
This latest acquisition follows a multi-million pound investment made by Leeds and London-based private equity house Key Capital Partners (KCP) in 2014 which also saw KCP partner Owen Trotter join the AiP board. Over the last three years, KCP has played an active role in driving the company’s growth strategy.
Mr Trotter comments: “This latest development marks another key milestone in AiP’s continued expansion. The business has already seen revenue grow by 120% since 2014 as its commitment to the provision of quality, freshly-cooked and nutritious meals for the education sector has chimed with public concerns. As a firmly established leader in the field, the company is well-positioned to extend its offering across the UK.”
Leeds and London-based KCP is a leading investor in the smaller buy-out market making investments of £3m to £15m in profitable growing companies, and with £140m of funds under management KCP remains open for investment opportunities in high growth businesses across the UK.