Noonan Services European expansion plotted by new owners

South Africa’s Bidvest completed €175m purchase of contract cleaning firm on Friday

The new South African owners of Noonan Services, the Dublin-based facilities management and contract cleaning company, have signalled that they plan to continue the company’s acquisition drive, including into continental Europe.

Johannesburg-listed Bidvest closed the €175 million deal on Friday to buy Noonan Services from UK private equity firm Alchemy and Irish company’s top eight directors and managers, who owned 20 per cent of the company. The management team, led by chief executive John O’Donoghue, has agreed to remain with the business.

Noonan Services had "a number of bolt-on-acquisitions in the wings" when Bidvest agreed to buy the business at the end of July, Lindsay Ralphs, the South African group's chief executive, told analysts on a call last week.

“We are looking at one particular one, so you can probably anticipate that’s continuing to grow Noonans by acquisition,” he said, adding that the group expects to “move across into the rest of Europe from this foundation”.


Noonan Services, which was set up in 1977 by Limerick man Noel Noonan to provide contract cleaning services to both the public and private sectors in Ireland, had seen its revenue treble to more than €300 million since its takeover by Alchemy in 2008, as it expanded in Ireland and Britain. The group, which is also involved in security, technical and environmental services, employs more than 13,000 people.


The group, whose clients range from AIB to hospitals and sports stadiums, now generates 40 per cent of its revenue in the UK.

Mr Ralphs said that Bidvest is “very, very comfortable” with Noonan Service’s management team, which is “every much onside with us”.

The group chief executive said that it is not “too concerned” about Brexit’s impact on Noonan Service’s UK business.

In 2014, Noonan Services almost doubled in size when it acquired Resource Group, Northern Ireland outsourcing company employing more than 6,000 people across the UK that was in administration at the time.

More recently, the company bought the security services unit of Brinks in Ireland last year, while it snapped up the business and assets of UK security firm Shield Guarding last year from India’s Topsgrup.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times