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Peter Rowland acquired by Melbourne Investment group

Peter Rowland Catering, Melbourne’s longest running hospitality group, has been acquired by investment firm Capital Alliance.

The 55-year-old business headed by industry identity Peter Rowland OAM, was acquired for an undisclosed sum earlier this month, allowing it to continue trading after personal circumstances and poor management resulted in it posting financial losses.

The business employs more than 100 staff full-time and 2000 part-timers throughout the year, servicing some of the biggest event hospitality contracts in Victoria, including The Melbourne Cup Carnival, The National Gallery of Victoria, Rippon Lea Estate and the Australian Grand Prix.

Capital Alliance, which has interests in property, travel, hospitality and tech, has taken a majority stake in the business. Its Australian founder Mohan Du‟s latest Docklands project, which will bring the first Marriott to Australiain 20 years, has just been approved by the Victorian Government.

The acquisition marks a change of direction for Peter Rowland Catering, which will launch a new food philosophy this year in order to challenge the innovative young hospitality firms that have launched in recent years.

After taking a step back, Peter Rowland will return in the role of Chairman to steward the business with the assistance of a younger management team headed up by CEO Emma Yee.

Mr Rowland, who started his career by selling ham rolls on the back beach at Portsea in the early 60s, said this investment has ensured all trading partners are secured, trade creditors have been paid and the company was looking to the future.

“With this acquisition we believe that Peter Rowland has many more successful years ahead of it. We are very pleased to be able to continue to be a major employer in Melbourne and to continue to have the opportunity to deliver some of Melbourne‟s best events,” he said.

“I know that Mohan and Emma’s youthful outlook will herald a new era for this business and I greatly look forward to working with the two of them as well as the rest of the team.”

Ms Yee, who has worked her way up from the bottom rung of the hospitality ladder in her early days, is the company‟s first female CEO and brings many years of experience.

“With this new chapter, we are hungrier than ever to reclaim our reputation for premier catering and event experiences. The strategic guidance, thinking and wisdom that Mohan, a true son of Melbourne, has already injected into the company is truly exciting and inspires me to take Peter Rowland to a new level,” she said.

As part of the acquisition, Peter Rowland Catering will be wound up to allow for the formation of the new company, Peter Rowland Group. A restructuring process that has covered all parts of the hospitality industry is now being finalised, with some jobs not being taken up in the new Group.

As part of the process, the senior management team also contributed personally to a significant financial shareholding in the new Group.

Mr Rowland said it had been a tough period ever since he took a step back from the business as his daughter Kate was being groomed to take over. Her death in 2014 due to cancer was a blow to the family-oriented company that counts Lindsay Fox and Rupert Murdoch among its clients.

“It has been personally a very hard road to lose a child and then watch as everything you have built starts to fall apart,” Mr Rowland, now 79, said. “Peter Rowland Catering has employed probably five generations of young Melbourne people for their first job, so we were very conscious of finding a solution that would minimise job losses and allow us to employ young Melburnians for the long-term future.”

The company appointed Deloitte last year to find an equity investor, going through a process to bring the storied company up-to-date. Dated accounting practices were removed, processes recalibrated and the business backend transformed.

Mr Du said the new Peter Rowland Group was now a company set up for the future and poised to take back its mantle at the top of the hospitality game.

“This is the start of an exciting new chapter for an iconic Melbourne business. I am excited to work alongside Peter and the team to drive innovation, taking the company in a direction no other hospitality company is thinking about. There is a lot of potential there,” Mr Du said.

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