hlw Keeble Hawson acts in management buy in of education recruitment specialist

hlw Keeble Hawson’s award-winning corporate team has advised on the management buy in of Provide Education Limited, a Barnsley-headquartered education recruitment agency.

The deal is the first for Operam Education Limited, which was launched in 2017 by experienced industry operators Eddie Austin and Andrew Frome and aims to be a ‘buy and build’ platform for businesses in the education recruitment sector.

Austin and Frome will join Provide Education, as CEO and non-executive CFO respectively.

hlw Keeble Hawson partner, Matt Ainsworth and solicitor, Russell Bainbridge, advised Provide Education founders Katie Buckle and Barry-John Simmons, who will continue in their roles as joint managing directors and shareholders as part of the deal.

Founded in 2006, Provide Education provides supply teachers and other staff to schools and nurseries across Yorkshire, the East Midlands, Greater Manchester and the North East from its headquarters in Barnsley and offices in Brighouse, Worksop and Billingham.

The transaction was initiated by specialist advisory firm Dow Schofield Watts and funded by a senior debt package from HSBC.

Eddie Austin, an education sector specialist and ex-managing director at Manchester-based ITN Mark Education and Sugarman Education in London, said: “Andrew and I are delighted to have invested in Provide Education as the first stage in the development of Operam and as part of facilitating longer-term succession planning for Katie and Barry.

“Our vision for Operam is straightforward – to create an attractive platform for the owners of companies in the education recruitment sector, providing them with the necessary guidance and support to drive continued growth and achieve a successful outcome. A key part of our investment strategy is to retain the entrepreneurial spirit that companies were founded upon, ensuring staff remain incentivised and recognise the opportunity that being part of Operam offers them.”

Buckle and Simmons commented: “We are very pleased to be welcoming Eddie and Andrew into Provide Education as part of the next stage in the company’s evolution.  Operam’s ethos, being a focus on long-term organic growth for the benefit of all parties and in particular our existing employees, is completely aligned with ours”.

The transaction is the DSW Yorkshire team’s second deal in the recruitment sector in the last three months and was advised by Tony Norwood, Paul Herriott and Matt Thompson.  Norwood commented: “This completely collaborative transaction represents a great outcome for all stakeholders and we are delighted to have advised on the deal. Operam’s highly differentiated offering will undoubtedly help support the succession planning for many smaller and privately owned companies in the sector over the next few years”.

Rob McCarthy and Jeff Gardner, from the DSW Transaction Services team, completed financial due diligence on the deal

hlw Keeble Hawson partner, Matt Ainsworth, said: “The combined breadth and depth of expertise of Eddie Austin, Andrew Frome, Katie Buckle and Barry-John Simmons provided a strong foundation for Operam’s dynamic investment strategy and vision and will no doubt accelerate the growth of their exciting offering in the education sector. We are delighted to have played a role in this milestone.”

A team from HSBC Corporate Banking, led by Relationship Director Scott Christian, provided the debt package which included a term loan and invoice discounting facilities.

Ward Hadaway in Manchester advised Austin and Frome, Rollits provided legal advice to HSBC Corporate Banking and the Tax Advisory Partnership in Leeds provided tax advice on the deal.

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