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School meals supplier the Contract Dining Company sold to AiP in deal which allows founder Anne Winn to retire

By Chris Price

A catering company which supplies 8,000 meals a day to 53 schools has been snapped up by a larger rival for an undisclosed sum - allowing its owner to retire.

The Contract Dining Company, based in Headcorn, near Maidstone, will join Alliance in Partnership (AiP), one of the largest education catering specialists in the UK.

The deal allows owner and director Anne Winn to retire, having founded the business in 2004.

The Contract Dining Company serves more than 8,000 school meals a day
The Contract Dining Company serves more than 8,000 school meals a day

Since then it has grown to employ 231 staff and increased annual turnover to £4 million.

Mrs Winn, who has sold all her shares to AiP, will phase out her work with the company over the next school year.

She said: “The name The Contract Dining Company lives on and it is very much business as usual.”

She added she felt “extremely proud and privileged to have served the children of Kent over the past 13 years”.

Its new owner provides over 75,000 meals a day in primary and secondary schools and colleges nationwide.

The combined group will serve over 400 schools and colleges throughout the UK and have combined sales of £33 million.

The Contract Dining Company was founded by Anne Winn
The Contract Dining Company was founded by Anne Winn

Managing director Paul Rogers said the takeover will “further strengthen our presence in the South East, giving us a strong foothold in Kent following our recent contract wins in London”.

He said: “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.”

AiP received a £5.3 million investment from private equity investors Key Capital Partners in April 2014.

Owen Trotter, a partner at Key Capital Partners, joined the AiP board as part of the deal.

He said: “This latest development marks another key milestone in AiP’s continued expansion.

“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.”

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