Commercial kitchens specialist cooks up catering engineering firm acquisition

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

Founded in 2000 by Tim Church, Halesown-based Network employs more than 90 engineers and carries out maintenance services for more than 60 chain customers.

Church, MD of Network, said “Airedale are a second generation family run business employing over 350 people, including 200 plus service engineers and have consistently been acknowledged as the market leading end-to-end platform business in the UK today.

“They have a proven track record of successful acquisitions in the kitchen maintenance space, notably SCC in 2014 and Flowrite in 2019.

“Just as importantly, Airedale really understand our industry and during our numerous conversations it has become clear that we have a shared vision for the future.

“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 comes after investment partnership, Rubicon Partners, bought a significant stake in Airedale Group.

Rubicon is focused on the acquisition and long-term strategic development of complex industrial businesses in Europe and North America.

Airedale Group’s CEO, Rob Bywell, said: Rubicon’s investment in May last year, which included providing significant funding for further acquisitions, has given us the support to continue building a group of highly complementary brands that are specialists and leaders in their respective sectors.

“Network tick all of these boxes; they are specialists in servicing high end catering equipment, including accelerated cooking platforms and microwaves, and have further developed their capabilities into electrical and coffee machine maintenance.

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

“Alongside our previous acquisitions SCC (catering) and Flowrite (refrigeration), Network enhances what was already an unrivalled national commercial kitchen maintenance platform. Postacquisition the group will employ a combined total of over 300 national service technicians.”

Bywell said Airedale has made long-term commitments to continue operating Network as a stand-alone business.

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

This deal is supported by Airedale’s long standing partners, HSBC on the banking side and Schofield Sweeney on legals.

Bywell added: “Over the last 10 years Airedale has consistently received outstanding support from Tom Sikora and Liam Bradford at HSBC Leeds Corporate and Martin Sweeney and Jessica Fielden and their teams at Schofield Sweeney.

“Having partners that truly understand our commercial and corporate ambitions and who we can count on time after time makes a huge difference to where we can take our business to.