Home / Facilities Management / Fresh start

Fresh start

Rob Legge, Group CEO at OCS explains how bringing Atalian Servest and OCS together is creating a fresh and transformed OCS brand

The announcement last year that OCS Group was to merge with Atalian Servest under a deal with private investment firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) was an intriguing concept due to the contrast between the two brands. OCS has a long pedigree in FM, dating back to the 1900s while Atalian Servest is less than two decades old but has rapidly expanded through organic growth and acquisition.

Now that the deal has gone through, Rob Legge Group CEO who spearheaded the success of the Servest brand talks us through his plans for the new operation. First, he reflects on his legacy at Servest.

“I started a cleaning company in 1997 in the UK which morphed into FM provider Servest in 2007 when we were acquired by a South African company. The plan was to grow what was a relatively small cleaning company to a large FM operation using private equity backing. I headed it up as Group CEO, looking after the UK and Ireland and South African business. We grew the UK operation to just over 800 million in revenue by the time we got to 2018 and that was when I sold the UK group out to Atalian Global Services.”

Legge stayed on as Deputy Group CEO alongside Atalian Chairman and major shareholder Franck Julien. Atalian Global Services Group had a turnover of €3 billion at the end of 2018, employed more than 125,000 people worldwide and operated in more than 36 countries across four continents. By 2020 explains Legge, the company needed capital to help with its growth and development and was working towards that when the pandemic hit. During the hiatus, it emerged that Atalian’s owner was willing to make a full exit from the business.

“Once he gave me the mandate we spent a long time with private equity firms and came up with three offers,” says Legge. “Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) were the best as they have a lot of experience in the service sector including SPIE, Baxter Storey and Morrisons.

“The whole transaction was due to go through in November 2022 but unfortunately the French business encountered wage increases which affected the performance of French operations so much so that the private investment firm renegotiated the deal with the shareholder to sell just the UK and Asia operation separately.

“At the same time CD&R were working on acquiring OCS which they concluded in November 2022, and we quickly finished our deal at the beginning of February and brought everything together on the 1st of March this year.”


With Atalian continuing to trade in France, Central Eastern Europe, USA and Africa, the group has left behind the Atalian brand and will operate under a refreshed OCS brand with a new image and a new look. It covers 36 countries in total with the focus on the UK and APAC and comprises the UK and Ireland, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and India. There are also operations in the Middle East and the group retained ownership of Aktrion, a European automotive business.

“Colleague numbers across the two businesses at the moment are around 130,000 people,” explains Legge, “and with group revenue at about £2.1 billion, it’s a big business.”

In terms of service lines, cleaning accounts for around 65 per cent of group activity but security is a growing area, particular the combination of security and tech. In hard FM the group offers technical services, HVAC, preventative maintenance programmes and a projects service. The purchase of Incentive FM last year bolstered its Integrated FM presence in the corporate, destinations and venues sectors and OCS can also provide a comprehensive food service business, complimenting the existing catering brands Angel Hill and Academy. Alongside all that are ancillary services such as pest control, concierge, car park management, AV and technology.

While both Servest and OCS already had offerings in many of these areas, according to Legge, “the rationale behind the merger was that both businesses are already well known in the industry, both powerhouses in their own right, but were complementary as we [Servest] didn’t come up against OCS very often in the market”.

He adds: “Both companies are good at service delivery and are very customer centric operations, but were slightly different in their approach. OCS are very focused on their ‘net promoter score’ using audits and the feedback they get from customers, while Servest has been more of an entrepreneurial type business, very hands on, very involved with customers and looking at what we can do better for the customer base.

“Both approaches work well and I think that in bringing the two together it fills in the gaps and we can use the best of both to create something very innovative – offering something with a fresh look and feel that differs from our competitors.”

In terms of sectors OCS already has a huge presence in the public sector, where it already has a lot of business in central government and Legge believes that will only grow under the new brand. The same goes for health care and transportation, including aviation, transportation, distribution, warehousing and online deliveries.

The customer reaction so far has been positive reports Legge. “Most see it as an opportunity for us to offer more services and do things more efficiently while the public sector appreciates the opportunity for us to take on larger government contracts as we can now offer additional services and support them better.”

About Sarah OBeirne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *