Thursfields advises on sale of Midlands-based Network Catering Engineers to Yorkshire group

22nd Jul

The corporate team at Thursfields Solicitors has advised the principal shareholders of Midlands-based Network Catering Engineers on its sale to a Yorkshire group.

Network, of Halesowen, has been acquired by Bradford-based Airedale Group, a specialist in the installation and servicing of catering equipment.

Thursfields director Philip Chapman and Ellie Bryan provided corporate advice, assisted by Lisa Kemp on employment issues and Stewart Coles on commercial property matters.

Mr Chapman explained that Network Catering Engineers was founded in 2000 and now employs more than 90 engineers and carries out maintenance services for more than 60 chain customers.

He said that it made “great strategic and commercial sense” to become part of Airedale, which is widely considered as the market leading end-to-end platform business in the UK.

Mr Chapman said: “We were delighted to advise Network on its sale to Airedale Group, a specialist in the installation and servicing of catering equipment.

“Network had grown to an optimum size and it made great strategic and commercial sense to combine its strengths with a larger company to offer real scale in that marketplace.”

Tim Church, the founder and managing director of Network, said: “Airedale is a second generation family-run business employing over 350 people, including 200-plus service engineers.

“They have a proven track record of successful acquisitions in the kitchen maintenance space, and they really understand our industry.

“We believe Airedale Group is the ideal home for Network and all of the Network team are fully committed to the business for the long term.”

The acquisition, for an undisclosed amount, comes after investors Rubicon Partners bought a significant stake in Airedale Group.

Rob Bywell, chief executive of Airedale Group, said: “Rubicon’s investment has given us the support to continue building a group of highly complementary brands that are leaders in their respective sectors.

“Network ticks all of these boxes: it is a specialist in servicing high-end catering equipment, including accelerated cooking platforms and microwaves, and has further developed its capabilities into electrical and coffee machine maintenance.

“Network is also the foremost service provider to the Quick Service Restaurant industry, which is one of the fastest-growing segments in the food service sector.

“Network enhances what was already an unrivalled national commercial kitchen maintenance platform and post-acquisition the group will employ a combined total of over 300 national service technicians.”

All of the existing Network management team will remain in place and will be operating the business as normal.

A team led by Martin Sweeney and Jessica Fielden of Scofield Sweeney advised Airedale Group on the deal.

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