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Fishers eyeing expansion after £5m injection

FISHERS, the Scottish company that provides laundry services to hotels, has secured £5 million of additional funding from majority shareholder Caird Capital to support growth plans including continued expansion in northern England and the exploration of bolt-on acquisition opportunities.

The funding from London-based Caird coincides with a refinancing by Fishers, with existing lender Lloyds Banking Group providing £25m of new bank debt facilities.

A spokesman for Fishers and Caird noted that Fishers had reduced its bank debt. Bank borrowings had been nearly £28m previously, he said.

Founded in 1900 and based in Cupar in Fife, Fishers provides laundry, linen rental and workwear hire services and cleanroom garments to customers in the hospitality, leisure, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals sectors in Scotland and the north of England.

Its employee numbers peak at more than 800, with the spokesman highlighting the seasonal nature of the hotel-related business.

Fishers cleans, irons and delivers more than two million items of linen every week. It counts Gleneagles Hotel, Premier Inn, the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Macdonald Hotels, Marriott, De Vere Cameron House Hotel and Radisson among its customers.

Latest available accounts show Fishers made a pre-tax loss of £3.49m in 2011, against a loss of £1.83m in the prior financial year.

The directors of Fishers noted in their review of the accounts that the £2.03m operating profit for 2011 was stated after exceptional costs of £974,481. They said the underlying operating profit for 2011 of £3m was down 20% on the 2010 figure.

The 2011 profit at the operating level turned into a pre-tax loss as a result of £5.6m of interest expenses and similar charges.

The turnover of Fishers Group rose from £29.6m in 2010 to £32.1m in 2011.

Fishers said it had grown steadily in recent years, while consolidating its market-leading position in Scotland and expanding into the north of England - opening a state-of-the-art laundry in Newcastle - and boosting its cleanroom garment offering with the 2012 acquisition of Origin Cleanroom.

Scott Inglis, finance director at Fishers, said: "This refinancing provides a platform for further growth for Fishers and the management team is delighted with the support shown by both Caird Capital and Lloyds. Fishers has a renowned reputation for quality and service and this, together with the continued expansion of budget hotel chains and the upgrading of existing hotel estates, will support the growth of the company both in Scotland and south of the border."

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