Elior buys Lexington Catering

01 October 2014 by
Elior buys Lexington Catering

Elior, one of the largest foodservice operators in the UK, has bought Lexington Catering, the boutique London firm founded by a trio of former Elior personnel.

Chief executive Mike Sunley, and directors Katharine Lewis and Rachel Lindner, who all previously worked for Elior's former business & industry brand Avenance, launched Lexington in 2002.

Chairman Tim West and chef director Robert Kirby joined the team in 2006 and 2005 respectively, also from Elior. Julia Edmonds joined as sales & marketing director from Restaurant Associates in 2007 before being promoted to managing director three years later.

The caterer, which operates in London and the South East, reported an annual turnover of £33.2m for 2013, up 25.8% year-on-year, while pre-tax profit for the period rose 29.6% to £1.5m.

Commenting on the implications of the acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, Sunley told The Caterer that the company's founding principles would be unaffected by the acquisition by Elior.

"We set Lexington up with the two values that were most important to us: people and food. We wrote in our business plan 13 years ago our aim to get into the Sunday Times Best 100 Small Companies to Work For, which we achieved in 2009.

"And at those early stages, no one was talking about local food and provenance. It just wasn't there. We wanted to do things differently and we did. None of that is going to change."

Sunley went on to emphasise that it was business as usual at Lexington, albeit with a greater ability to compete in the market place.

"Our move to Elior means that they are going to be able to provide us with the financial and other support to help us grow the brand, which will enable us to better compete with the big boys. Elior is keen to support the development of the [Lexington] brand and also LRS, our reception services brand."

Gilles Petit, chief executive of the Elior Group welcomed Lexington to the business and added: "This acquisition allows us to achieve a value-creating transaction and develop our position in the UK. It also reflects our focused growth strategy, which is to focus on markets where Elior has strong positions."

The move to Elior will see Tim West appointed a director and non-executive chairman of Elior UK. Mike Sunley will continue as chief executive of Lexington, joining Catherine Roe, chief executive of Elior UK on the executive committee.

Roe emphasised the benefits of the deal: "The added market presence this agreement brings will provide additional resources and many opportunities for our people and our individual brands, which we believe is a very exciting prospect for all of us and importantly our highly valued clients and customers".

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