The Johnson Service Group's origins can be traced back to 1780. Our traditional textile-related businesses grew through the progressive amalgamation of a number of regional companies including Pullars, Zernys, Bollom, Crockatts, Smiths, Kneels, Harris Clean, Hartonclean and Johnsons. We entered the market for hospitality services through the acquisition of Stalbridge Linen Services in 1995, and achieved UK market leadership in textile rental through the acquisition of the Semara Group in 2000.
Following a strategic review in 2002, we disposed of a number of underperforming and non-core businesses, including our Irish textile rental businesses and Washroom Services.
At the same time we increased our exposure to growing markets by establishing in October 2003, with the acquisition of Workplace Management, a new division which had a unique business model addressing the rapidly growing market for facilities management.
We also strengthened our representation in drycleaning in Southern England under the Johnsons brand, and through the acquisition of the prestigious Jeeves business in central London, together with its overseas franchising operation. We also acquired the Sketchley retail drycleaning business in May 2004.
In July 2004 we further strengthened our corporatewear offering with the acquisition of Dimensions, the UK's leading corporatewear supplier.
At the beginning of 2005 we acquired the DCC Corporatewear business, focusing on the financial services and leisure sectors. In October 2005 we bought SGP Property Services, providing white-collar facilities management to the financial services and leisure sectors. Both businesses extended our service offerings and ideally complemented our established strengths in corporatewear for retailers and facilities management for the commercial office market. Wessex Textiles, specialising in ambulance and paramedic clothing, was integrated into Dimensions Corporatewear with significant cost savings.
Towards the end of 2007 the Board undertook a review on the Company’s operations in order to determine the most appropriate strategic direction for the Company. One of the conclusions of this review was that the Board should investigate opportunities to reduce indebtedness and financial gearing. This decision ultimately led to the sale of the Corporatewear division with the disposal of CCM in March 2008 and Johnson Clothing Ltd, the leading UK supplier of clothing for people at work, which was completed in April 2008.
In March 2012 we acquired the workwear rental business from Cannon, making us the UK’s leading supplier of workwear rental, clothing over 1.3 million people.
A review of the Drycleaning business in July 2012 led to the decision to close over 100 underperforming stores and to the combination of the Drycleaning and Textile Rental operations into one Textile Services division.
In 2013 we completed the disposal of the Facilities Management division, thereby returning the Group to its original Textile Services operation and significantly reducing debt.
In March 2014 we entered the volume Hotel Linen market with the acquisition of Bourne Services Group Ltd.
In April 2015, JSG became the UK's largest linen provider to the restaurant and catering sector following the acquisition of the entire share capital of London Linen Supply Ltd, a specialist supplier of table linen and chefs' wear to the restaurant, catering and hospitality market. The acquisition provided the Group with a processing base close to the London restaurant market and complements our existing Stalbridge business.
Ashbon Services Limited, a specialist linen hire and laundry business based in Lincolnshire, was acquired in November 2015. Ashbon was rebranded to our ‘Stalbridge’ brand and allowed us to improve the service we offer to our customers in the Midlands and North of England.
Shortly thereafter, in January 2016, we acquired Zip Textiles (Services) Limited. Zip, which serves the high volume hotel and leisure sectors from its processing plant in Birmingham, is an extremely well invested business that complements our existing Bourne business in providing geographical reach, operational efficiencies and additional production capacity for central England, with the potential to expand this further.
In April 2016, and in line with our stated strategy of targeting value accretive acquisitions, we acquired Afonwen Laundry (which has production facilities in Pwllheli, Cardiff and Reading) and Chester Textiles. Both businesses complement our existing high volume linen business in Bourne and Birmingham and give us additional production facilities to serve our customers better and provide the opportunity for logistical efficiencies. This expanded national coverage allows us to become one of the UK’s largest providers of linen to the high volume hotel market.
In recent years, retail Drycleaning has been a very challenging market whilst, at the same time, our strategy has been to further develop our Textile Rental businesses. As a result, and notwithstanding it being a difficult decision given our heritage and roots all began with Drycleaning, the Group announced the sale of its retail Drycleaning business in January 2017.