Training firm to double turnover to £20m following private equity investment

The opening of Estio Training’s Birmingham facility has added 38 jobs to the Leeds-based provider of IT and digital apprenticeships.

The company is expected to double its turnover to £20m in the next 12 months after receiving £10m worth of investment from Palatine Private Equity in September 2018.

Since the deal, which was the third from Palatine’s £100m Impact Fund, Estio has become a nationwide apprentice provider, growing the number of learners on its training programmes from 800 to nearly 1,200. Headcount has increased from 120 at the time of the investment deal to just under 200, boosted by the Birmingham expansion.

The business said it was rolling out its services more widely into the Midlands and South of England, with an estimated 2,500 learners expected to be enrolled on its training programmes in the next 12 months.

Estio said that by increasing focus on sustainable initiatives, it has managed to achieve growth while reducing the impact it has on the environment. In the last 12 months, the firm has halved the mileage completed by its trainers and skills coaches by increasing the number of coaching sessions delivered remotely online.

The company has continued to strengthen its Board through Palatine’s introduction to investment expert Tim Farazmand who has joined Estio as Chairman. Farazmand has more than 30 years’ experience in mid-market private equity, having worked with 3i, Royal Bank of Scotland Private Equity and LDC. Lee Meadows, who was previously the company’s Commercial Director and co-founder, has been promoted to CEO.

Meadows said: “Our purpose is to help people of all backgrounds and ages to get a better education, while helping to close the skills gaps that exist across a wide range of sectors.

“We needed to generate investment to achieve our objective of becoming a national training provider, and Palatine’s Impact Fund and commitment to make a positive difference made them the obvious choice.

“Since that point, Palatine has been instrumental in supporting the business, enabling us to meet the rapidly increasing demand for apprenticeships since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017. This includes the recruitment of staff, the addition of our Birmingham office and the revamp of other sites across the UK.

“Our commitment to sustainable initiatives came from an acknowledgement that by increasing our headcount and physical sites, the potential for our footprint to increase was high. With the support of Palatine, we have actively taken steps to go the other way, creating not only a more profitable business, but a more sustainable one.”

Beth Houghton, Partner and Head of Impact at Palatine Private Equity, said: “Estio has demonstrated outstanding growth figures in the nine months since our investment, and has the potential to make an enormous difference to bridging the UK IT and digital skills gaps. We are delighted to support Lee and his team with these achievements.

“Estio’s focus on social inclusion, diversity and accessibility to education and high-quality training programmes underpins the positive impact it has on society. The business is ideally placed to receive Palatine Impact investment and we look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead.”