Leading independent education caterer, The Brookwood Partnership, and its sister company, ABsolutely Catering, have merged with CH&Co Group to become specialist education brands within the Group. The merger gives the newly enlarged Group a turnover in excess of £200m and its associated brands will provide catering at over 600 sites across the UK, employing nearly 6,000 in its team.
CH&Co Group is a leading independent catering and hospitality group, formed in June 2015 when MML invested for a significant minority stake to facilitate the merger of CH&Co and HCM (Host Catermasters).
Merging Brookwood’s assets and team with a larger, well-respected independent company like CH&Co Group provides Brookwood with the perfect opportunity to compete more effectively, build on client services and provide more opportunities for employees. For CH&Co Group, which currently operates some contracts in the independent and State school catering services markets, the merger gives the Group a much larger foothold in these important sectors.
Brookwood’s co-founders, Kate Martin and Sue Parfett, will continue in their current roles as Managing Partners. Martin said, “We began talking to Tim Jones, CH&Co Group’s Chairman, late last year. As we talked, it became clear that our two organisations would be a great fit because CH&Co Group wanted to expand further in the education sector. We would also have greater resources between us to constantly develop and enhance our client service and of course, we both share a similar ethos of food, people and clients.”
The deal is the right choice for both companies, according to CH&Co Group’s CEO, Bill Toner. “With the combined assets and team of CH&Co Group and Brookwood, we have greater strength to compete even more vigorously in the education sector. As we’ve proven over the past year since CH&Co merged with Host and Catermasters, it is possible to have a larger group but maintain the feel and personal contact associated with smaller companies. Our Group is made up of a number of niche brands, each targeting specific business areas, and Brookwood and ABsolutely Catering will operate separately as education specialists. Both of these brands, like the companies within our Group, are established caterers focussed on providing excellent food and service with a reputation for looking after clients, customers and employees; we have a lot of common ground to build on.”
Edward Baker, in MML’s UK investment team, commented, “The merger is a fantastic opportunity for the business to continue on its successful journey to date and it has been a great pleasure to work alongside and support the management team of CH&Co Group. We look forward to continuing to provide support and funding to the business to capture the market opportunities available to it.”
Founded in 1996, The Brookwood Partnership were pioneers within the education catering sector. Putting chefs back into school kitchens and offering modern food styles that children wanted to eat, Brookwood has built up a strong business over the last 20 years, becoming a leading education caterer. Acquiring the educational contracts from Graysons Education in 2013, the caterer moved into the publically funded schools sector under the brand of ABsolutely Catering. Today The Brookwood Group provides a fresh food service to nearly 170 schools, serving 65,000 fresh meals each school day.