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Hopkinson jobs saved as Duchy buys assets

08 March 2007
Hopkinson jobs saved as Duchy buys assets

Boutique contract caterer Duchy Catering has purchased the business and assets of Hopkinson Catering, safeguarding 700 jobs.

The deal, first revealed on Caterer blog Kitchen Rat last week, almost triples Yorkshire-based Duchy's contracts, from 35 to 110, and boosts annual turnover to about £20m, with staff numbers up to 1,000.

Sources close to the deal said Hopkinson Catering had planned to trade out of difficulties after being placed into administration, but that the discovery of a sizeable VAT liability in the past few weeks made that eventuality impossible.

Duchy has not taken on liability for Hopkinson's debts - thought to be in the region of £900,000 - as part of the deal. The debt will instead remain with Hopkinson Catering Ltd and be dealt with by administrators KPMG.

However, Hopkinson founders Frank and Fiona Hopkinson will act as consultants for Duchy to aid integration, and Duchy plans to keep the company's head office in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, open.

Simon Elliot, Duchy's strategic sales and marketing director, described the acquisition as "massive" for the company. "It was a very tight deadline to get this deal done, but we were in the right place at the right time," he told Caterer. "Not only has this safeguarded jobs but it has guaranteed continuation of service for clients."

Duchy was founded in 1999 by Andrew Howarth and operates in the education, business and industry and aged care sectors.

www.kitchenrat.com

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