Contract catering heavyweight Elior Group has acquired Waterfall Catering Group, a specialist caterer in the education, care and welfare markets, in a move that it says “significantly strengthens” its position in the UK.
Formed in 2007, Waterfall Catering Group has 803 sites across the UK with focus on the growing education and care markets. The company has shown significant growth over the last decade and last year generated revenues of £70m.
It employs 3,500 people with two customer-facing brands – Caterplus (a care specialist) and Taylor Shaw (an education specialist).
“This acquisition is fully part of our 2016-2020 strategic plan to expand our presence in priority markets,” said Philippe Salle, Elior Group Chairman and CEO. “Waterfall Catering Group’ strong client portfolio and its outstanding expertise will greatly support our ambition to be part of the top contract caterers in the UK market and double the size of the activity there by 2020.
“The market presents joint opportunities, in segments in which Elior Group has a referent position: education, healthcare and premium business and industry. We intend to continue to expand in the United Kingdom both organically and through M&A, and Waterfall Catering Group’s acquisition mirrors perfectly our strategy.”
The acquisition is the second for Elior Group in the UK after Lexington Catering in September 2014.
Catherine Roe, CEO of Elior UK, said: “This is an exciting move for both Elior UK and Waterfall Catering Group. Together we share a common passion for delivering great customer experiences and innovative food services. The acquisition allows Elior Group to strengthen its growing market position in the UK and enhance the support and resource available to our respective customers.”
Waterfall Catering Group CEO, Jim Lovett, added: “We share similar values and a similar ethos in terms of our approach towards clients, attention to detail and great food. The combined effect of our two businesses and our differentiation and specialism will make us an even more powerful force in the care and education markets.”
Taylor Shaw and Caterplus will continue to operate under their current brands as part of Elior Group. Chairman Vince Pearson, CEO Jim Lovett and CFO Gabrielle Higham will keep their position and will remain as minority shareholders to oversee the next phase of growth.
All 3,500 employees will remain part of the team going forward, according to Elior.
The acquisition provides an exit for Waterfall’s institutional backers LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, which invested in the secondary £20m buy-out of the business in December 2014. LDC said the sale generated a 2.6x money multiple and IRR of 81%.