94-year-old family-run commercial laundry and linen firm set to be sold

Robert Swan & Clive Jones of K Laundry Ltd with Jessica Painter of Watersheds

A commercial laundry and linen hire specialist which was founded by the current owners’ grandparents in 1928, has been sold in a deal completed by South-West based corporate finance specialists Watersheds.

K Laundry Ltd, which is based in Ramsgate, Kent, was established by the grandparents of current owners Clive Jones and family almost a century ago, and still operates from the original site.

Originally serving the domestic market, K Laundry later moved into the commercial laundry sector as domestic washing machines became more prevalent. K Laundry served the seaside town’s hotels and guest houses, before expanding into laundry and linen hire for hospitality, private schools and manufacturers.

When MD Clive Jones decided to retire, he wanted to be confident that his family’s business would still have a promising future, and particularly that the company’s employees would be secure in their jobs.

Clive said: “With the experience in laundry deals, and their sympathetic and hands-on approach to the sale, my family were reassured that Watersheds was ‘on our side’.”

When Watersheds introduced Clive to Belmont Laundry, an Essex-based company serving much of the South-East of England, Clive felt that Belmont would be an excellent fit.

“Like K Laundry, Belmont is a family-owned company that serves similar customers and also strives for the highest standards of customer service,” continued Clive.

“Ramsgate is an area of deprivation and preserving the jobs of those who have been so loyal to us was an absolute must for any deal. Watersheds appreciated the importance of the human element if we were to sell, and we really appreciate the time and effort they took to find a match that met our ethical, as well as financial, requirements. Engaging Watersheds was one of the best business decisions made in the 90+ years of K Laundry.”

Mark Middleton, MD of Belmont Laundry, said his own father started their business over 30 years ago, so he understands why Clive and his family wanted a buyer with similar aims and values.

“This acquisition will allow us to expand geographically, while maintaining the same high-quality service,” said Mark. “We will continue to invest in the K Laundry site and, given that providing such a service is very labour-intensive, will continue to employ the local workforce.”

Jessica Painter, a Partner with Watersheds, said: “This was our fourth laundry deal, and one of very many deals where the owners understandably have no experience of transactions such as this, so it was gratifying to be able to support Clive and get a deal in place that ticks all his boxes.

“It’s not at all uncommon for owners of second or third-generation firms to feel a strong commitment to their staff, and to want to protect their future livelihoods. Because we spend a lot of time understanding what they really want from a deal, we can save them time by seeking out offers that genuinely meet their criteria. This means they can leave the company in safe hands and enjoy the fruits of their long years of labour.”

Legal advice was provided by RWK Goodman of Bath.

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