Catering Insight – Power Players 2021: number 1

*Position held*

Bradford-headquartered Airedale Group achieved a hat-trick at the top of the Power Players rankings. Thanks to the combination turnover of its various divisions, including Airedale Catering Equipment, South Coast Catering, Airedale Technical Services, Caterform Stainless steel fabrications and Flowrite Refrigeration, it keeps its lead.

While we do not yet know how the pandemic affected its finances, in the 12 months leading up to December 31, 2019, the distributor and service specialist generated an 11% increase in sales, from 39.7 million £ 43.9million, a record figure. Operating profit for the year increased 51% from £ 1.1million to £ 1.6million.

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Updating the image, CEO Rob Bywell explained, “When we entered the first lockdown in March of last year,
there was an immediate and significant impact on the business, and while it presented challenges, the most difficult aspect was the level of uncertainty. In one respect, the speed of decision-making was critical and in yet another, the potential for making the wrong decision increases dramatically.

“This is a very difficult and very unique set of circumstances that you have to face when trying to decide what is in the best interests of the business. While this is not a set of circumstances that you would like to be faced with, the ability to quickly change and reshape your business is never better than when it is under this level of pressure. So while the initial goal was to stabilize the business, a key part of my role was to help shift the mindset of the business to see how we wanted to capitalize on the opportunity to innovate and build a better business. This ultimately led us to find a new investor for the group, providing the capital now to accelerate our development plans. In general, you find that companies with good management teams come out better and stronger from crisis situations. “

This investor is Rubicon Partners who, in June, together with the Airedale management team, acquired all the shares of the Airedale group.

Rob Bywell, CEO, Airedale Group.

When asked if the past year has had an impact on the way the company operates, Bywell replied: our sleeves rolled up ‘attitude. What I would say is that the values ​​already in place shone and really helped the company adapt to the ever-changing circumstances that we found ourselves facing.

And as to how the group has satisfied its customers, he stressed: “The most important thing that we have been able to maintain throughout the pandemic are the channels of communication with all of our key customers so that we can understand. the decisions they make as a business (move to takeout, outdoor kitchens, etc.) and how Airedale can support them.

Supplier reviews

Airedale Group CEO Rob Bywell praised his company’s supply chain, retailer: “In general, we have found our suppliers very supportive during the pandemic. Covid has forced all companies in the supply chain to work together to ensure that we support each other during the crisis. We have found that many suppliers are keen to grow their business with Airedale because they know we are financially secure and that we will likely come out of the pandemic in a good position to grow. “

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