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All 40 jobs saved in rescue of Kingswinford catering equipment firm

By Simon Penfold | Kingswinford | Business | Published:

All 40 jobs have been saved at a Kingswinford catering equipment firm that has been bought out of administration.

Francis Catering. Picture: Google StreetView

Staffordshire-based Unitech Industries has bought Francis Catering Equipment and its Design Catering Equipment business in a rescue deal with administrators from FRP Advisory.

It ran into trouble after expanding and taking on bigger contracts, which had put "unsustainable pressure" on cash flow and working capital, said FRP.

The business will now trade under the name of Francis Commercial Kitchen Services, specialising in the design and installation of top class commercial kitchens for clients from the group's main office on Lanesford Industrial Estate, in Kingswinford, and a satellite warehouse in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Francis Catering has been trading for more than four decades, with an array of clients with catering equipment and industrial kitchen installations, having expanded in response to growth in the market and its ability to provide customers with a quality service.

Recent expansion included the purchase of assets and certain contracts out of the administration of Manchester firm Design Catering Equipment in 2014.

But, as part of the group's expansion, the securing of new, larger contracts involved upfront capital investment, which put "unsustainable pressure" on cash flow and working capital, said the administrators. "After being unable to secure additional new funding, the group was left with no viable alternative to ensure ongoing trading, other than to seek a sale of its businesses and assets via administration."

Francis Catering Equipment called in advisers from FRP Advisory to run an accelerated sales process in an attempt to keep operating. Steven Stokes and Raj Mittal, partners at FRP Advisory, were appointed joint administrators to the group on September 4 and the businesses and its assets were immediately sold to Unitech Industries.

Unitech Industries is a large manufacturing group with a 75,000 square foot production facility at Burntwood and operates a number of catering equipment subsidiaries.

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The sales secures the jobs of around 40 staff and allows the firm to keep working with its existing customer base.

Steven Stokes of FRP Advisory said: "This is a positive result for a long established business, securing the jobs of a skilled workforce in the West Midlands and Stockport. Unitech Industries provides the ideal support and depth of management experience to provide Francis with the platform to prosper in the future. We wish the Francis business and their staff every success under their new ownership."

Nick Imlah, group managing director at Unitech, added: “We are glad to have been able to secure the future employment of such a large number of people. I look forward to working with the teams at Kingswinford and Stockport to re-build the brand and reputation of Francis; a successful business for 40 years.”

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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