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WSH buys fast-growing Cater Link

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Cater Link has become the fourth independent caterer to be bought by a larger company this year. Wilson Storey Halliday (WSH) has bought the Kent-based firm for an undisclosed fee that one industry source estimated to be between £3m and £4m.

Tony McKenna, managing director of Cater Link, called the deal a “strategic alliance”. “We were at a crossroads and needed to go to the next stage. When you are growing as fast as we are, you need to reinvest in the business, and this was a constructive way of doing it,” he said.

Last year Cater Link was rated as the fifth fastest-growing unquoted company in the UK, according to the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list. Cater Link’s turnover had grown from £407,000 in 1999 to £10m last year. The company employs 650 staff.

“The decision to join forces with WSH will offer our staff greater career opportunities, and our clients will see a huge investment in IT,” McKenna added.

He said the deal involved a change in share ownership, but Cater Link would not change its name and would continue to be run by McKenna.

The sale is the latest example of consolidation in the sector. In the past two months Aramark bought Midlands-based Catering Alliance, Compass bought Everson Hewett, and ISS Facility Services bought Eaton Group.

Alastair Storey, managing director of WSH, said Cater Link’s strong presence in the healthcare and education sectors would complement WSH’s business and industry contracts. WSH employs 1,600 people in the UK and Ireland and has offices in Wokingham, Berkshire; London; and Glasgow.

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 25 – 31 March 2004

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