Lockhart owner enters fragmented French catering equipment market

Bunzl

Lockhart Catering Equipment’s owner Bunzl has made a binding offer to acquire a collection of businesses that will expand its presence in the French catering supplies market.

The company is set to take over Comptoir de Bretagne and Générale Collectivités, which both distribute light catering equipment and tableware to a “fragmented” customer base that includes the public, healthcare, foodservice and cleaning sectors.

The move comes as it also revealed it will purchase Hedis, which is engaged in the sale and distribution of cleaning and hygiene related products to various commercial markets. It trades through a number of subsidiaries across France.

In 2016 the aggregate revenue for the businesses to be acquired, which trade at above the Continental Europe business area average operating margin, was €155m (£139m), of which €131m (£117m) related to Hedis and €24m (£21m) related to Comptoir de Bretagne and Générale Collectivités.

If acquired, Bunzl expects to realise a number of synergies, principally from purchasing savings.

The acceptance of the company’s offer is subject to the completion of a consultation process with the relevant works councils of the target companies which is expected to be initiated shortly.

It is anticipated that the final sale and purchase documentation will be entered into and completion of the acquisition will take place towards the end of the year, subject to the approval of the transaction by the French competition authorities.

Frank van Zanten, chief executive of Bunzl, said: “The proposed purchase of Hedis, Comptoir de Bretagne and Générale Collectivités is an important acquisition for Bunzl as together they will further expand our existing cleaning and hygiene operations in France and extend our business there into the catering equipment sector for the first time. I am absolutely delighted that we have the opportunity for both groups to work together as we look to grow and develop in the large and fragmented French market.”

The level of acquisition activity has picked up for Bunzl in 2017. So far this year it has acquired, or agreed in principle to acquire, 10 businesses for a total committed spend of approximately £530m.

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