Education specialist adds to group to boost ‘Northern Powerhouse’ ambitions

Eddie Austin
X The Business Desk

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North West education recruitment agency Key Stage Teacher Supply has been acquired, for an undisclosed sum, by Operam Education Group, based in Barnsley, Yorkshire.

Operam is a specialist provider of qualified and support staff to schools across the Midlands and North of England.

Key Stage Teacher Supply has offices in Blackburn, Chorley and Lancaster.

The transaction follows the acquisitions of Teachers UK and The Education Specialists earlier this year by Operam and further strengthens its presence in key regional markets as it looks to establish itself as the leading independent education recruitment agency in the North.

Following an initial £3.7m investment in February 2019, BGF has committed further funding to support the acquisition of Key Stage as it continues to back management’s buy-and-build strategy, while HSBC has also extended senior debt facilities to help finance the deal.

In order to support the group’s operations as it continues to scale, the senior management team has also been strengthened with the appointment of Sharon Bullock as COO.

Sharon brings with her more than 20 years of sector experience in building, leading and developing high performing recruitment teams.

Operam chief executive Eddie Austin said: “This is a very exciting time for Operam as we welcome another business into our rapidly-growing group. Key Stage Teacher Supply is a real industry specialist, with an excellent track record and reputation in the North West. Its footprint in the region will further build on our vision of creating a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ in education recruitment.”

He added: “We’re also delighted to welcome Sharon Bullock on board as group COO. She has a wealth of experience in the education recruitment sector and will bring vital skills and knowledge to the role as we enter our next stage of growth with continued support from BGF and HSBC.”

Mark Rigby, an investor at BGF, said: “This is excellent news for Eddie and the team. We believe there is real potential to build a business of scale and are pleased to be supporting Operam’s ambitious plans as its long-term investment partner.”

Advisers to the transaction were, for Operam Education Group: Financial due diligence and transaction support was provided by Sophie Colloby and Paul Herriott at DSW, with Sean Fitzgerald at Ward Hadaway advising on legals.

For BGF: Legals, James Fawcett at Gordons.

For HSBC: Legals, Pinsent Masons.

Keystage: Corporate finance support was provided by Andy Moore and Conor Murray at Bracebridge Corporate Finance. Legal advice was provided by Ian Riggs, Olivia Jones and James Down of Hill Dickinson.