Catering equipment supplier's founder cooks up plan for £500m windfall

The founder of a catering equipment empire is plotting a £500m-plus sale that would catapult his family into the ranks of Britain's super-rich.

Sky News has learnt that Andrew Nisbet, whose business has become a multinational distributor to the food-service sector, has instructed Goldman Sachs to sound out prospective buyers.

Any deal would be likely to value Nisbets at well in excess of £500m, with sales in 2021 of £420m showing a 34% increase on the previous year, according to insiders.

A formal auction process is unlikely to get under way until much later in the year, and an alternative outcome such as a partial sale remains a possibility, they added.

A stock market listing is not thought to be a focal point of Goldman's mandate.

Mr Nisbet founded the company in 1983, and his family owns 100% of its equity.

If an outright sale does take place, it would deliver one of the biggest instant paydays to a British entrepreneur for years.

The timing of the prospective process is intriguing, with widespread expectations of a global recession in 2023 and discretionary consumer spending likely to come under sustained pressure.

Nisbets says it has supplied more than 35,000 catering products to restaurants, hotels, bars, and the broader hospitality industry during its four decades in existence.

The company is understood to be debt-free, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation more than doubling in 2021, the last year for which results are available, to £42.6m.

Sales in the latest financial year are expected to have risen again to "well over £500m", according to a source.

Nisbets operates offices and distribution warehouses in the UK, Ireland, Benelux, Germany, France, Australia and New Zealand.

The majority of its sales are made through its e-commerce platform.

Last year, the company appointed Clairfield International, an advisory firm, in Europe and Australia to identify acquisition targets.

It has also taken steps to strengthen boardroom governance by appointing non-executive directors including Rakhi Goss Custard, who sits on the boards of companies including Kingfisher and Trainline.

The company is run on a day-to-day basis by Peter Sephton, its executive chairman.

Nisbets declined to comment further, while Goldman declined to comment.