Ali Group completes acquisition of Welbilt; Kevin Clark appointed CEO

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Ali Holding has officially completed its $3.4bn acquisition of Welbilt, Inc. after an agreement to sell Welbilt's global ice-making machine business, creating a powerful global foodservice equipment entity. Kevin Clark is appointed CEO of Welbilt; Phil Dei Dolori is CEO of Welbilt EMEA/APAC

Ali Holding S.r.l. (Ali Group), one of the largest, global companies in the foodservice equipment sector, has officially completed its $3.4bn (equity value) acquisition of Welbilt, Inc. The move is the culmination of more than one year of negotiation and regulatory approval, which began on May 25, 2021, and sees Ali Group consolidate and increase its global presence in the foodservice equipment market.

Following the acquisition, Ali Group has added leading Welbilt brands such as Merrychef and Convotherm into the fold. The Ali Group now consists of 95 global brands, employing approximately 14,000 people in 34 countries. It has 75 manufacturing facilities in 17 countries and sales and service subsidiaries throughout Europe, the Middle East, North America, South America, and Asia Pacific.

The move was approved following Welbilt’s proposal to divest its global ice machine business to water solutions specialist Pentair, which agreed to pay $1.6bn for ice-making brands including Manitowoc and Koolaire.

The acquisition will also see Ali Group add primary manufacturing facilities in the US, Mexico and China to its capabilities.

A rich heritage

“The completion of this transaction is an important milestone in Ali Group’s history and marks the beginning of our next chapter of growth,” said Filippo Berti, Ali Group chairman and chief executive officer in a statement. “Welbilt brings to Ali Group a rich heritage, talented team and an expansive portfolio of industry-leading foodservice solutions.

“With greater scale, an enhanced worldwide footprint and a highly complementary and comprehensive portfolio of premier brands across the entire foodservice value chain, we are well- positioned to capitalize on the significant growth opportunities ahead. We are excited to welcome the talented Welbilt team to the Ali Group family and look forward to leveraging our strong global presence as we build on our culture of quality and innovation.”

The acquisition sees Kevin Clark (pictured) named CEO of Welbilt, an Ali Group Company, effective immediately. Clark will be responsible for the day-to-day management of Welbilt’s current portfolio of companies including: Cleveland™, Convotherm® , Crem® , Delfield® , Frymaster® , Garland® , Kolpak® , Lincoln® , Merco® , Merrychef® and Multiplex® . These product brands are supported by three service brands: an aftermarket parts and service brand, KitchenCare® ; a fully integrated kitchen systems brand, FitKitchen® ; and a cloud-based digital platform brand, KitchenConnect® .

Clark is a 38-year veteran of the foodservice equipment industry, having started his career with the Wasserstrom Company in 1984. He has held various sales and marketing executive roles with Middleby Marshall, a division of The Middleby Corporation; and Wells Bloomfield. Clark also held executive leadership roles at both The Delfield Company and Standex Cooking Solutions Group, a division of Standex International. Clark first joined the Ali Group in 2015 as president of Scotsman Ice Systems and in 2019 transitioned to the role of president of ACP, Inc. During his tenure at both companies, he oversaw many new and successful initiatives on both the hot and cold sides of foodservice equipment.

“Kevin’s experience in both the hot and cold segments of the foodservice equipment industry make him the ideal choice to take Welbilt into the future,” said Berti. “I would also like to thank [former Weilbilt CEO] Bill Johnson for his years of service to Welbilt and to the foodservice industry. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Exciting times

Meanwhile, Phil Dei Dolori (pictured) has been promoted to CEO of Welbilt EMEA/APAC with immediate effect. He will report directly to Andrea Cocchi, CEO of Ali Group, EMEA/APAC.

“Welbilt is thrilled to finally be part of the Ali Group family, one of the largest and most diversified global companies in the foodservice equipment industry,” said Dei Dolori. “I am particularly delighted to have the responsibility to lead our teams at Welbilt across EMEA/APAC regions. This is a particularly exciting time for the organisation, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Dei Dolori joined Welbilt in 2007 and since then has held a number of senior roles including president global ice and beverage, senior VP EMEA/APAC and most recently, senior vice president, managing director, Welbilt EMEA/APAC.