Education catering and facilities management firm Dolce has announced that it has a "considerable war chest" with which to expand and potentially double in size.

Dan Curtis, Dolce's managing director (pictured), said that after several years of tough trading the company was looking to drive the growth of the business through acquisition and was keen to speak to firms of a similar size in the catering and facilities management arena.

The expansion plans mark a reversal of Dolce's fortunes. Three years ago it had borrowings of more than £333,000, its private sector clients were struggling and its school catering contracts were unprofitable due to stringent nutrition regulations.

Curtis said: "We've been through some tough times and have made some difficult decisions, reducing overheads and non-operational staff in our York and Wigan offices and making eye-watering cuts to become a leaner operation.

"The tough decisions paid off and we are in a great position now, having built up a considerable war chest to allow us to expand. Now we are looking to take the next steps, recruiting the right people to help us take on the big boys."

The turnaround was achieved through a combination of tough cuts, perseverance and innovation in the form of a partnership with Live Kitchen, a specialist pre-ordering and kitchen management system.

Founded in 2001, Dolce provides catering and domestic services to 130 schools across the country, with major local authority contracts in West Berkshire, Cumbria and the London Borough of Hackney among others. The company employs more than 500 people.

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By Janie Stamford

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