Private equity house takes stake in creative industries college

A specialist provider of education in the creative industries to 16-19 year-olds has received investment from private equity Apiary Capital.

Access Creative College, which has offers courses in computing, games, media, music and events at specialist campuses including Lincoln, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, York, London and Norwich, says the investment will allow the business to accelerate its expansion plans under the leadership of CEO Jason Beaumont.

Jo Johnson, former Minister of State for Universities, has joined the board as chairman.

The college prepares young people for careers in the creative industries through innovative, practical employment-led training. It also provides creative sector apprenticeships across England through a partnership with the National College of Creative Industries (NCCI).

Apiary’s investment will allow Access to continue to develop its existing facilities, grow enrolments at its campuses, develop new properties, and expand its apprenticeship provision with NCCI to become the number one choice for creative training in the UK

Mark Salter, managing partner at Apiary Capital, said: “Access has a great reputation in the further education sector, which has only been enhanced by its impressive response to the challenges caused by lockdown. Jason’s passion and vision for the business are really exciting and we are delighted to be supporting him and his team with their ambitious growth plans.”

“The investment from Apiary is tremendously exciting for the business,” said Jason Beaumont, CEO of Access Creative College.

He added: “The recently-announced joint venture with NCCI means the group now offers learners the full range of further education options with courses at Levels 2, 3 and 4 plus T-Levels and apprenticeships, and we will continue to develop and expand our provision. We are passionate about ensuring our learners are prepared for their creative careers in this exciting sector.”

Jo Johnson, chairman of Access Creative College, said: “The further education sector has a hugely important role to play in our education system. Access is an impressive, innovative provider, and a great example of how working closely with industry and employers can best prepare learners for careers. I am delighted to join as chairman and look forward to helping Jason and the team to realise their vision for the group.”

Advisers from Browne Jacobson’s Birmingham and Manchester offices advised Apiary, led by private equity partner Gareth Davies, supported by senior associates Kirk Glenn and Ryan Brown and associate Dan Thomas.

Clearwater International advised the vendors. The Clearwater International deal team consisted of partner and international head of business services Marcus Archer, partner Rob Burden, director Richard Ellis and director Mark Maunsell.