Independent caterers Harbour & Jones and CH&Co Group have merged bringing the turnover for the newly formed business to £265m. The organisation will now provide catering at over 700 sites across the UK and Ireland, and employ more than 6,000 people.
The move sees the second largest independent foodservice operator boasting a diverse portfolio of specialist businesses while also strengthening its position across the hospitality market, particularly in education and the London region.
Harbour & Jones' founders and managing partners, Patrick Harbour and Nathan Jones, will continue in their roles, and the business and its brands, H+J, Fare, Tonic, Principals and Upfront, will maintain the names for which they are known.
A statement from the group said that merging the resources and expertise of these two "progressive" companies extends the reach of both in the business and industry, leisure, heritage, events, and education sectors, while also allowing the brands within it to continue to vigorously compete and grow.
CH&Co Group chief executive officer, Bill Toner, said the move provided the right fit for both companies.
"Harbour & Jones and CH&Co Group are both dynamic businesses enjoying sustained growth," he commented. "By combining our assets, knowledge, skills and expertise, we will increase our strength to compete across the board, which is a very exciting prospect.
He continued: "CH&Co Group is a collection of small businesses with their own distinct characters and specialisms. We've undertaken a number of mergers in recent years and have proven that being part of a larger company doesn't dilute a business' personality or personal touch. Quite the opposite in fact, it gives each one access to the group's robust resources, systems and support to allow them to continually innovate and vigorously compete.
"We're thrilled to have Harbour & Jones join the CH&Co Group family and we look forward to realising the opportunities this merger creates for the business, our clients and our teams."
Commenting on the merger, Harbour said: "For our clients and our teams it's very much business as usual. We'll continue to deliver the great food and service for which we have become known, but behind the scenes we'll be looking at how we can all pool our creativity and our verve to strengthen all the businesses within the newly-expanded CH&Co family.
"I'm looking forward to working with our new colleagues in the merged business and excited by the opportunities it will bring for all of us."
Jones added: "It's been clear from the outset that CH&Co Group is a great fit for Harbour & Jones. The merger also makes sense on a cultural level. Both businesses are made up of well-established, high-calibre brands with strong values. We're driven by a desire to deliver delicious, innovative food and great service, and to uphold our strong reputation for looking after people."
Last October, Harbour & Jones underwent a complete rebrand for all five of its brands, following 50% growth in its business.
Harbour & Jones, which this year celebrates 13 years in business, acquired two new companies in December 2015 - PCC Ltd and its brands Fare of London and Principals Catering - leading to a considerable increase in the company's size.
Meanwhile, last summer CH&Co Group, which holds a Royal Warrant for catering services to HM The Queen, merged with independent education caterer the Brookwood Partnership and its sister company, ABsolutely Catering. Brookwood's co-founders, Kate Martin and Sue Parfett, continue to work in their roles as managing partners.
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