Training company makes first strategic acquisition following PE support

Manchester training business, Back2Work Group, has acquired London’s Just IT Training, a provider of IT and digital apprenticeships and skills ‘boot camps’, for an undisclosed sum.

Palatine Private Equity-backed Back2Work delivers intensive training courses to help the long-term unemployed return to work, retrain or reskill.

Just IT Training is its first strategic acquisition since securing investment from Palatine in October 2020, when its returns-focused £100m Impact Fund, which was started in 2017 and invests in profitable businesses making a positive impact on the environment or society, supported Back2Work.

Founded in 2001 by Simon Perriton, Just IT Training is an apprenticeship provider in the UK and works with clients such as Sainsbury’s, National Rail, Google and public sector organisations, such as the NHS and Bank of England.

It enjoys annual revenues of more than £8m, boosting Back2Work’s turnover to more than £20m, and adding an additional 100 staff to the business.

Back2Work provides a number of key long term contracts to deliver pre-employment training for the devolved combined authorities, and now supports more than 10,000 people with training every year.

Luke Muscat, co-founder and managing director of Back2Work Group, said: “This acquisition is a big moment for us and we are excited to welcome the Just IT team into the Group.

“Just IT has a fantastic reputation in London and the South East, excellent clients and, crucially, a similar culture and dedication to the highest standards of training and development as ourselves.

“As a business with social impact at its heart, the acquisition will enable us to reach more learners, improve communities by helping more long term unemployed back into work and continue to ease the pressure of labour shortages in important sectors of the economy.”

James Gregson, Impact Fund partner at Manchester-based Palatine said: “Just IT Training has been on our radar for some time – it’s an excellent business and an ideal fit for Back2Work. As well as adding to its geographical presence in London and the South East, importantly it brings great clients and significant expertise in apprenticeships, recruitment and the provision of intensive skills boot-camp courses.”

Simon Perriton said: “Over the last six months we have been working together with Back2Work on the future of Just IT/Skills Team and are very clear about our mutual ambitions. As we look to the future, myself and the board felt it was the right time to evolve the ownership model to support ongoing investment into our business and our growth nationally and this transaction will allow us to compete on larger business opportunities together.”

Palatine was advised by Grant Thornton Corporate Finance (Peter Terry, Victoria Giles, Cariad Lightfoot and Amy Huddleston), Cortus Transaction Services (Jenny Quinn and Dan Gallagher) and Pinsent Masons (James Skivington).

Cariad Lightfoot, associate director in Grant Thornton’s corporate finance team, said: “Just IT’s experience in the IT and tech apprenticeship and training space is a fantastic addition to Back2Work’s current offering, and the combined business is well placed to move into the next stage of its growth story. This deal will play an important role in enabling the business to continue to upskill and support thousands of individuals every year.

“We are seeing an increased appetite for deals with a clear social impact and look forward to seeing Back2Work continuing to flourish under Palatine’s investment.”