Alliance in Partnership

Specialist education caterer

April 2014

£5.3 million investment

Exited in December 2018

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“KCP have played an invaluable role in the growth of our business. They were a supportive partner and provided insightful input into operational and strategic discussion. It felt like like the KCP team was a natural extension to the senior managment team at AIP and we enjoed a great relationship with them”

Paul Rogers, Former Operations Director | Alliance in Partnership

The business...

AiP Catering Limited is a specialist education caterer within the state and independent sector. The company services infant, primary, secondary, academy and specialist schools, supplying fresh and healthy foods to all ages. All meals are cooked fresh on site, are nutritionally analysed and conform to all government and industry standards.

The deal...

KCP invested £5.3 million and raised a further £5.5 million of bank debt to support the management team in buying out their absentee shareholders. The deal would enable the management team to focus the business on growth, rather than generating dividends for shareholders who had lost touch with the day to day running of the business.

AiP had established itself as a quality school meals provider in the West Midlands and had made early inroads into the London market. AiP's reputation for locally sourced, high quality meals combined with the increased public attention on the importance of child nutrition and the introduction of universal free school meals gave the company a great platform for growth.

To support these growth aspirations KCP appointed an experienced Non-Executive Chairman and supported the team as they expanded both the sales force and operational management in the business to cope with rapid growth.

KCP value-add...

During our investment we:

  • Executed a complex transaction at the outset with a difficult and diverse group of vendors swiftly and efficiently
  • Appointed a Chairman who quickly developed a good relationship with the management team
  • Expanded the sales team and built up a customer retention team to drive sales growth
  • Enhanced operational reporting to focus on contract profitability
  • Identified and assisted in the execution of two successful bolt-on acquisitions
  • We assisted in the reduction of customer churn through the creation of a customer retention team; and helped design systems to identify and rectify underperforming contracts


AiP received significant interest from a number of larger catering businesses as its rapid rate of growth became apparent. At the time of exit, sales and profits had nearly doubled and the number of schools using AiP had risen from 170 to over 400. In 2018, KCP engaged advisors to run a targeted sale process from which two attractive bids from multi-national catering business emerged. In December of 2018, AiP was sold to French catering giant Sodexo for an undisclosed sum. Management received cash for all their shares and continued in their roles on enhanced terms.

Key highlights...

  • The number of schools serviced increased by 135%
  • KCP sourced and supported two bolt-on transactions
  • As a result of the growth strategies adopted at AiP, turnover increased by 127% during the period of KCP’s involvement
  • The value of the company increased by 200%