Investment group snaps up major stake in commercial kitchen specialist

Bradford-based Airedale Group, which installs and services catering equipment, says investment partnership Rubicon Partners has bought a significant stake in the Group.

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

Airedale Group’s management team, led by CEO and main shareholder Rob Bywell, together with Rubicon Partners have acquired all shares in the company.

As a result several minority shareholders, including Rockpool Investments have sold their stake in the business.

Bywell said: “This is a significant and exciting step forward for the Group. Over the last seven years, with support from Rockpool, Airedale has solidified its position as the leading kitchen design & installation business in the UK, whilst simultaneously building a truly national commercial kitchen maintenance platform.

“The acquisitions of SCC in 2014 and Flowrite in 2019 has allowed the Group to create an unrivalled maintenance proposition with a combined total of over 150 national service technicians.”

“Since the Management Buy Out in 2013, Airedale has increased revenues by over 300% and expanded its operations across the UK to become the market leading specialist in the catering equipment sector.

“For our next phase we have been looking for a partner with both industry experience and the financial capacity to help us grow to the next level in terms of service offering (both product and technology).

“We also wanted a partner that could assist the Group in internationalising this service proposition.

“Rubicon are an ideal fit with a proven pedigree and a history of success in supporting businesses to reach their full potential.

“Our philosophy is to continue to build a Group of highly complementary brands that are specialists and leaders in their respective sectors but will also work closely together to increase our value proposition to our customers.

“With Rubicon Partners’ backing we have the capacity to make further investments, both in our current operations, and by seeking to acquire complementary businesses that will broaden and deepen the services we offer.

“We intend to continue to deploy capital where we believe it aligns to our strategic vision and long term objectives.”

Airedale has its roots in Yorkshire. It was formed by the CEO’s father Peter Bywell and his business partner John Rhodes in 1985, who successfully grew the business up until 2013.

Rob Bywell added: “We are national operational but still very proud of our Yorkshire heritage.

“We received great support on this transaction from all our local advisors; Tom Sikora at HSBC (Leeds), Martin Sweeney at Schofield Sweeney, Richard Goldsack at Clearwater (Leeds) and Chris Stott at KPMG (Leeds) and all their respective teams.”

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