The Contract Dining Company bought by education caterer

By Rick Pendrous contact

- Last updated on GMT

AiP directors Sally Tyson, Angela Austin and md Paul Rogers
AiP directors Sally Tyson, Angela Austin and md Paul Rogers
School meals specialist Alliance in Partnership (AiP) has acquired The Contract Dining Company, based in Kent, in a deal which will help the company to expand its reach in the south-east.

Based in Headcorn, near Maidstone, The Contract Dining Company was established in 2004 and provides catering services to 53 schools in Kent, delivering more than 8,000 meals a day. 

With a 231-strong team, the business has grown to a turnover of £4M based on its ethos of only using high-quality ingredients, locally sourced wherever possible, in its freshly prepared, healthy menus. The Contract Dining Company management team, including founder Anne Winn, will remain with the company following the deal.

75,000 meals a day

The company’s acquisition sees it join what AiP claimed was one of the largest education catering specialists in the UK. Over the past 19 years, AiP has expanded from its Oldbury, West Midlands base to provide more than 75,000 meals a day in primary and secondary schools and colleges nationwide.

“The addition of The Contract Dining Company to the AiP family will enable us to further strengthen our presence in the south-east, giving us a strong foothold in Kent following our recent contract wins in London,” ​said AiP md Paul Rogers. “There’s also a close cultural fit between the two businesses as we both share a focus on providing fresh, healthy and nutritious meals for schools.”

The combined group would now serve more than 400 schools and colleges throughout the UK and have combined sales of £33M, added Rogers.

This latest acquisition followed a multi-million pound investment made by Leeds and London-based private equity house Key Capital Partners (KCP) in 2014 which also saw KCP partner Owen Trotter join the AiP board. Over the past three years, KCP has claimed to have played an active role in driving the company’s growth strategy.

‘AiP’s continued expansion’

“This latest development marks another key milestone in AiP’s continued expansion,”​ said Trotter. “The business has already seen revenue grow by 120% since 2014 as its commitment to the provision of quality, freshly-cooked and nutritious meals for the education sector has chimed with public concerns. As a firmly established leader in the field, the company is well-positioned to extend its offering across the UK.”

KCP is a specialist investor in the smaller buyout market making investments of between £3M and £15M in profitable growing companies. With £140M of funds under management, KCP claimed it was open for investment opportunities in high-growth businesses across the UK.

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