The Malpas-based Jones family that owns central heating contractor PH Jones has pocketed £30m from the sale of the business to Centrica, the parent company of British Gas.
The British Gas Community Energy division has acquired PH Jones Group in an all-cash deal. PH Jones produced a pre-tax profit of £1.5m pre-tax profit in 2010 on turnover of £76m.
PH Jones specialises providing central heating services to the social housing market, a sector targeted for growth by British Gas.
Set up in a shed his back garden in 1963 by plumber Phil Jones, PH Jones has grown to employ more than 1,200 staff. The British Gas deal will see husband and wife team, Phil and Brenda Jones, retire while their two sons, Martin and Chris Jones, continue with a separate business, PH Jones Metering Services.
Martin Jones, managing director of PH Jones, said: "Having nurtured and successfully grown the business for nearly 50 years, the time is right for mum and dad to exit the company and enjoy a well earned retirement.
"We've built this business on strong family values and these have been the foundation of its success. Chris and I are going to use these same values to develop our business PH Jones Metering Services."
PH Jones provides heating service and repair for around 250,000 social housing properties under 42 contracts.
The acquisition will bring British Gas around 850 employees, of whom approximately 560 work in the Social Housing business. The transaction does not include the Utility Services business previously operated by PH Jones, which will be retained by the vendors.
British Gas said social housing represents 20% of the UK's housing stock with around five million homes and the sector is forecast to spend £3.5bn a year on energy services by 2012.
Betsy Bassis, managing director of British Gas Community Energy, said: "The acquisition of PH Jones significantly accelerates our growth strategy in social housing. PH Jones is a successful, profitable company in this sector and combining its strengths with those of British Gas will deliver important benefits for our customers."
PH Jones is made up of three divisions, two of which have been acquired by British Gas – Homeservices, which specialises in services to the social housing sector, and Facilities Management. Martin and Chris will now take equal stakes in the remaining Utility Services division, which already has a £15m turnover.
Recognising the growth potential for smart metering, Martin and Chris have already set out an ambitious strategy to double turnover by 2014.
Jones added: "By solely concentrating on metering services our aim is to continuously improve the service delivery to all our clients – existing and new.
"PH Jones Metering Services has a great team with exciting potential and prospects. We are committed to becoming the leaders in the metering industry."
PH Jones Metering Services will operate out of its main Wrexham office and will retain all of its 250 engineers and 50 support staff. Martin and Chris Jones will oversee the strategic development of the business and David Burke, utilities director, will continue in his management role.