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Enodis plc is a leading manufacturer of commercial kitchen equipment. The company, which derives its name from the Latin for "solutions," produces food preparation equipment such as choppers, grinders, mixers, shredders; storage and handling equipment, including dish carts and utility carts, counter tops, dispensers, bins, and boxes; serving equipment ranging from buffet stations, salad bars and equipment, beverage dispensers, deli display cases, and beer coolers; refrigeration installations and systems, including ice machines; sanitation and environmental systems, including ventilation, fire suppression, and washing machine systems; and cookware and kitchen tools. Enodis makes its products under a variety of brand names, including Garland, Frymaster, Lincoln, Cleveland, Welbilt, Scotsman, Vent-Master, and Belshaw. Many of the company's brands and operations hold world-leading positions in their product categories. Enodis stems from the former Berisford conglomerate, which originated in the mid-1950s. The company is listed on the London and New York Stock Exchanges. Although based in England, Enodis and its CEO operate out of the company's headquarters in Florida in order to be closer to its primary North American market. In 2003, the company posted sales of £679.4 million ($1.3 billion).
Mid-19th Century Origins
Samuel and William Berisford founded a small grocery and pharmacy in Manchester, England, in 1851. That company later grew into one of the United Kingdom's largest commodity trading groups with a variety of diversified manufacturing interests before transforming itself into the commercial kitchen equipment specialist Enodis at the turn of the 21st century.
This transition began with the arrival of William Berisford, grandson of one of the company's founders, as the head of the family business near the end of the 19th century. The company launched a secondary business in sugar wholesaling, which soon grew into the company's primary operation. S&W Berisford bought a new facility in Manchester to house its sugar business, and by the beginning of the 20th century had grown into one of the United Kingdom's largest sugar merchant houses.
S&W Berisford went public in 1910. Following World War I, the company began expanding, acquiring other sugar merchants, while also adding new activities. Such was the case with its 1926 purchase of Henderson and Liddell Ltd., another prominent sugar wholesaler. Henderson and Liddell also operated a strong canned goods wholesale business. In order to supplement that operation, Berisford acquired Liverpool-based JF Turner & Co. The company then moved its headquarters to London and focused its foods business on imports of canned goods and dried fruits.
Berisford began a drive to increase its scale following World War II, launching a new acquisition drive that added some 20 new companies to the group's scope before the beginning of the 1960s. One of the company's earliest and most important acquisitions of this period came was of Joseph Travers and Sons Ltd., a public company with interests ranging from sugar and spices to coffee, canned goods, wine, citrus fruits, and cereals.
In the 1950s, Berisford, which previously had focused on supplying England's small grocers, now recognized the potential of the new supermarket format then being introduced into the country. Berisford began marketing a number of packaged foods under the Haven Protected Foods label. In 1958, the company created a dedicated subsidiary for that operation, Haven Foods Ltd., in order to roll out a more extensive line of Haven-branded products. As part of that effort, the company also built a new manufacturing facility. By the end of the 1970s, the Haven brand had grown into the United Kingdom's second-largest producer of dried currants, raisins, and sultanas, as well as a leading producer of packaged dried beans and rice.
Growing Conglomerate: 1970s and 1980s
Berisford's attention remained fixed on the British market until the late 1960s. In 1968, however, the company acquired JH Rayner Ltd, a company with trading operations throughout the world. Rayner added strong business in the cocoa and coffee trade and added to Berisford's own sugar portfolio, while extending the company into the metals trading market for the first time. The Rayner acquisition helped transform Berisford from a wholesaler into one of the world's major commodities trading groups. A large part of that transformation was credited to former Rayner chief Ephraim Margulies, who took over as head of Berisford and guided it until the early 1990s.
Through the 1970s, Berisford continued to develop its wholesale and branded foods operations. In 1970, the company created The British Pepper and Spice Company, transferring these operations from its other subsidiaries in order to group them under a single structure. Also in 1970, Berisford established a subsidiary for importing and packaging citrus fruit juices.
At the same time, Berisford began extending its manufacturing side. In 1968, the company acquired Matthew Walker Ltd., based in Heanor, Derbyshire, which produced Christmas puddings and mincemeat. Under Berisford, the Matthew Walker label was expanded to include fruit cakes for the foreign market. This extension was supported by the building of a new factory in 1979.
In 1973, Berisford acquired Berlin-based Kascho Kakao und Schokoladenwerke, a manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate products. This purchase was complemented by the addition fo the Netherlands-based Wessanen Cacao in 1980. Other acquisitions made by Berisford during the 1970s including Smithfield and Swanenberg, a meat trading, slaughtering, and wool merchanting group (1973); Jarmain & Sons, a wool scourer; Tom Martin Metals Group (1976), adding that company's metal reprocessing business; Turner Curzon, a timber broker with a farm machinery distribution business (1978), and British Tanners Products (1979), acquired principally for its Gelatine Products subsidiary.
By the beginning of the 1980s, Berisford had transformed itself into a highly diversified conglomerate with sales of more than £2.17 billion. Yet merchanting and commodity trading remained the group's primary business, accounting for nearly 92 percent of its revenues and more than 66 percent of its profits.
Rebuilding in the 1990s and Beyond
Berisford gained headlines in the 1980s for its battle to take control of British Sugar. After nearly five years, including scrutiny from the British Monopolies and Mergers Commission, Berisford at last succeeded in acquiring British Sugar--only to find that the sugar market itself, faced with competition from a new generation of artificial sweeteners, was shrinking dramatically.
More difficult for the company was its attempt to diversify beyond its core foods businesses into the financial services and property markets. The company invested heavily in real estate into the late 1980s, particularly in the United States. Yet the global crash of the real estate market at the end of the decade left Berisford extremely exposed. With a debt of about £1.2 billion, the company was forced to begin a sell off some of its holdings, including British Sugar in 1990. That sale, to Associated British Foods for £880 million, helped pull the company back from the brink of bankruptcy.
Yet the sale of British Sugar also left the company without a strategic focus, as its remaining operations proved too small to carry it into the future. At this time, the company brought in a new chief executive, Alan Bowkett, in order to lead its transformation. Bowkett at first targeted the footwear industry, making a takeover offer for privately owned British shoe giant C&J Clark. However, the company's offer was rejected by the Clark family shareholders.
Bowkett then went scouting for a new direction for Berisford. In 1994, he turned to the consumer kitchen sector, paying £56 million in order to acquire Magnet, a maker of kitchen cabinetry and operator of a 200-store retail kitchen furniture and joinery chain.
The following year, Berisford found its purpose. In January 1995, the company acquired Connecticut-based Welbilt, a leading manufacturer of commercial kitchen equipment. Founded in 1929, Welbilt had expanded into the commercial foodservice industry with the purchases of Frymaster, Belshaw, and others in the early 1980s. In 1989, Welbilt added a number of other operations, including Cleveland Range, Dean Industries, Merco Products, Savory Equipment, and the Food Service Equipment Group of Alco Standard. Welbilt was particularly active in the fast food sector, which was undergoing enormous growth in the 1990s. Berisford's position as an international company provided a means for Welbilt to follow the ambitious global expansion programs of its clients, which included MacDonald's, PepsiCo (owner of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut), and Burger King.
As Bowkett described the company's prospects to the Sunday Times: "The decisions on what equipment they use are taken in America and not Moscow or Peking. A feature of the industry is working with these customers to develop a product which they will apply across all their chains." Nevertheless, the United States remained a major market for Welbilt, as Bowkett explained: "Where we see further growth possibilities in America is in developing litigation-avoidance equipment. If you sell an undercooked burger to someone in California, you face a million-dollar lawsuit. A great many of these restaurants have 100 percent turnover in their staff, and a lot of them are low-skilled people or high-school kids. They need equipment that is foolproof so that they are not going to serve up potentially hazardous food."
By the end of the decade, foodservice equipment emerged as the clear focus of Berisford, which adopted the name Berisford Plc in 1995. In the second half of the 1990s, Berisford adopted a new strategy of providing full-service and even turnkey "solutions" for its customers, and the company began acquiring companies in order to flesh out its range of products. The United States, where the kitchen equipment market remained highly fragmented, became the company's main strategic focus.
In 1999, Berisford acquired Scotsman Industries Inc., paying £442 million ($700 million) in a deal later described by some observers as "disastrous." Indeed, although Scotsman enabled Berisford to complete its range into the refrigeration and refrigerated equipment sector, it also exposed the company to high debt levels.
The economic slump in the early 2000s exacerbated the company's debt problems, and at the turn of the 21st century Berisford once again found itself struggling with losses. The company's share price, as investors responded only slowly to the company's transformation from the former commodity training group, also suffered. In order to highlight its makeover from a conglomerate to focused manufacturer, the company changed its name to Enodis in 2000.
Enodis added a number of small kitchen equipment manufacturers in the early 2000s. Among them was Merrychef, which produced commercial-grade microwave ovens, for £17 million in 2000. The company also began shedding its non-core businesses, including, in 2001, the Magnet kitchen business. Enodis's sell-offs continued into 2002 with the sale of Austral Refrigeration, based in Australia, and Alladdin/Temp-Rite, a Nashville-based maker of meal-delivery systems.
In 2003, Enodis briefly put itself up for sale. However, after entering talks with a number of potential buyers, the company proved unable to find a suitable purchase price and dropped the plan. Instead, Enodis turned to a new CEO, Dave McCulloch, already active in the company as its COO. In recognition of the company's strength in the United States, McCulloch moved his office to Florida to be closer to Enodis's main customers. Enodis itself remained headquartered in the United Kingdom.
Enodis continued to be hurt by the global economic slowdown that saw its core client base scale back their own expansion efforts. The trend toward healthier foods brought new concerns for the company, as customers began to shy away from the fat-rich foods offered by the fast food industry. Yet that same trend brought new hope for Enodis, as companies such as MacDonald's sought to introduce new food items in order to cater to the trend toward healthier foods. The new foods required new equipment solutions, and Enodis positioned itself to provide them. As a leading foodservice equipment producer, Enodis had performed a remarkable transformation from its grocery roots and its long history as a commodities trader.
Principal Subsidiaries: Castel MAC S.p.A. (Italy); Cleveland Range Ltd. (Canada); Cleveland Range, L.L.C. (United States); Convotherm Elektrogerate GmbH (Germany; 91%); Convotherm Ltd. (United Kingdom; 91%); Convotherm Singapore Pte Ltd. (Singapore; 91%); Enodis Corporation (United States); Enodis Deutschland GmbH; Enodis France SA; Enodis Group Ltd. (United Kingdom); Enodis Iberia SA (Spain); Enodis UK Ltd.; Frimont S.p.A (Italy); Frymaster L.L.C. (United States); Garland Commercial Industries, Inc. (United States); Guyon Productions SA (France); Hartek Beverage Handling GmbH (Germany); Jackson MSC Inc. (United States); Kysor Industrial Corporation (United States); Lincoln Foodservice Products, Inc.(United States); Linea.net, Milano SrL (Italy; 95%); Merco/Savory, Inc. (United States); Merrychef Ltd. (United Kingdom); Mile High Equipment Company (United States); New Ton Food Equipment Co. Ltd (Thailand); Scotsman Group Inc. (United States); Scotsman Ice Systems SA (PTY) Ltd (South Africa; 51%); The Delfield Company (United States); Vent Master (Europe) Ltd. (United Kingdom); Viscount Catering Ltd. (United Kingdom); Welbilt Manufacturing (Thailand) Ltd.; Welbilt Walk-Ins, L.P. USA; Whitlenge Drink Equipment Ltd. (United Kingdom).
Principal Competitors: Robert Bosch GmbH; Aco-Service A/S; Swidnicka Fabryka Pomp Sp zoo; FMC FoodTech; Wanbao Electrical Appliance Group Corp; CIR S.p.A; Fenaco; Premark International Inc.; Stork N.V.