Clearwater International advises Waterfall Services on secondary buyout backed by LDC

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LDC has backed the €26m secondary buyout of Waterfall, a leading independent contract caterer. The existing management team will continue to lead the business.

Waterfall, headquartered in Warrington, is one of the UK’s leading independent mid-sized contract caterers operating through two very strong brands in Caterplus and Taylor Shaw. Caterplus services residential and care homes across the country, as well as welfare charities and shelters, and it is regarded as the largest operator in the sector. Taylor Shaw operates in the education sector with contracts for state primary and secondary schools and colleges and a presence in business and industry.

YFM Equity Partners and co-investors Neptune Calculus and Kaye Enterprises have sold their minority stakes in the business, which has a turnover of c. €77m with staff numbers of over 3,000. LDC has backed the incumbent management team including Chairman Vince Pearson, CEO Jim Lovett and Finance Director Gabrielle Higham.

A team at Clearwater International led by partner Paul Jones, with support from associate Oliver Wheatley and associate director John Davies, advised the shareholders of Waterfall on the transaction.

Paul Jones, partner at Clearwater International, said: “Waterfall is a business with a proven record of historic growth and the investment from LDC will enable the company to reach its potential and achieve the strategic goals set ou by its high quality management team. The business is now ideally positioned to take advantage of a changing market, particularly when considering the high profile Free School Meal initiative. Going forward, the company is looking towards organic growth with a number of exciting buy-and-build opportunities also on the horizon. We wish Waterfall and its management team success for the future.”

Richard Ibbett, Investment Director at LDC, said: “The contract catering industry is thriving with real demand for quality, cost-effective service and product, particularly as the health and education sectors respond to budget challenges. In well under a decade, and with an impressive management team at the helm, Waterfall has become a UK market leader. We look forward to supporting the business as it continues its growth journey.”

Jim Lovett, CEO at Waterfall, commented: “It has been a whirlwind since we launched Waterfall in 2007 and we have now established ourselves as one of the leading players in our sector. YFM Equity Partners, Calculus and Kaye were very supportive investors and they helped transform the growth of our business, including two acquisitions. Now with LDC, I’m confident that we can kick on and develop our offering to ensure that our customers across the country continue to receive top-class catering services.”