Bridges Fund Management Takes Majority Stake in School Caterer Innovate

London investment firm Bridges Fund Management has paid £8.5 million for a majority stake in the school catering business, Innovate Services Ltd.

The company said it has targeted the school catering sector driven by the belief that it offers an “outstanding opportunity to drive better health and education outcomes for children alongside strong commercial performance”.

It added that one of the reasons it picked Innovate was the catering company’s work with its partner schools (through events, school councils and parents’ meetings) to promote the benefits of healthy eating

Innovate serves over 90,000 children across 120 primary and secondary schools in England.

The surrey-based caterer was named the UK’s top performing foodservice group in a recent Alix Partners report. Last year it reported turnover of £17.7 million.

Bridges says it will now work with and build Innovate’s management team, led by Geoff Peppiatt, to scale the platform and deepen Innovate’s impact focus.

Peppiatt, executive chair of Innovate, said: “Our core purpose is, and always has been, to ensure that young people can enjoy high-quality, nutritious food in their schools and colleges. But beyond that, we believe we should do whatever we can to create a better world.

“Bridges has long been a leader in impact investing, and we felt they really understood our values and our vision for the business. With their support, we’re committing to the goal of becoming an ‘Impact Organisation’: working within the school and wider community to encourage healthier lifestyles, positive employment practices and sustainability.”

Emma Thorne, investment manager at Bridges Fund Management, added: “Having identified school catering as an attractive sector, we approached Innovate because we felt they were one of the best operators in the space. So we were delighted to find that they shared our view of the growth and impact potential of the business, and we’re excited to be working with management to take Innovate to the next level.

“This is another great example of a high-performing business whose focus on impact underpins its competitive advantage – making Bridges a natural investment partner for this next phase of growth.”


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