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Organic growth propels BaxterStorey’s parent WSH over £700m turnover mark

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Organic growth propels BaxterStorey’s parent WSH over £700m turnover mark

Organic growth in its catering and restaurant brands has helped contract catering and restaurant firm WSH to propel itself over the £700m turnover mark for the first time.

WSH International Investments, the parent company of the newly reorganised group that counts BaxterStorey, Holroyd Howe, Caterlink, Benugo among its operating companies, generated a turnover of £731.5m over the year to 31 December 2016. That was an increase of 12.4% on the previous year.

Pre-tax profit fell by 50% to just under 5.8%, down from nearly £8.6m in the year before. The reduction in profit was largely as a result of exceptional financing costs of £5.3m thought to be related to its refinance and restructure at the end of last year.

Commenting on the results, WSH International Investments’ chief financial officer Marc Bradley hailed a “strong year”.

Much of the turnover growth was driven by organic growth of 10.9% in its trading companies, with the balance of growth attributable to Restaurants Etc, the company co-founded by chef and restaurateur Mark Hix which WSH took over as part of a joint venture, announced in April last year.

Hix had previously worked as a consultant chef for WSH and the deal included seven restaurants as well as three Mark’s Bars and event catering business, although it did not include his hotel venture Hix Townhouse in Lyme Regis, Dorset.

WSH’s operating profit margins remained static at 4.2% but a strong trading performance and careful working capital management has led to cash flow from operating activities increasing by 52%, which WSH would allow it to invest for future growth.

The biggest business within the group was BaxterStorey, which enjoyed a 7.6% increase in turnover to £403m. Pre-tax profit was static at just under £23m.

Independent schools caterer Holroyd Howe also saw significant growth, with turnover rising 22% to £61.5m. Operating profit climbed nearly 25% to £3.2m.

Education caterer Caterlink contributed a turnover of nearly £104m, up 23% against the year. Operating profit was up 17% to £5.4m.

Benugo, the cafe, deli and restaurant business that operates in high streets, public spaces and workplaces, also saw a substantial increase in turnover of 12.7m to £100m, however operating profit fell slightly to just under £5.5m – a drop of 7.4%.

Turnover for continuing operations at Restaurants Etc for the year to 30 December 2016 was flat against the previous year at £3.3m. The business made a pre-tax loss of £751,000, although this narrowed against the previous year when it clocked up a pre-tax loss of £1.1m.

WSH as a whole employed an average of 14,650 people throughout the course of the year.

WSH was unavailable to comment further on the figures.

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