Acquisition sees education recruitment company expand its national footprint

Eddie Austin

Barnsley-based Operam Education Group – a BGF-backed education recruitment specialist – has completed its first acquisition in London, strengthening its geographical footprint in the South East.

In the latest in a series of strategic acquisitions, the company has acquired Horizon Teachers for an undisclosed sum in a deal funded by HSBC, with strategic support from growth capital investor BGF.

Based in central London, Horizon Teachers is an education recruitment agency that works with primary, secondary and SEND schools, supplying teachers and support staff across London and the South East.

It is the eighth acquisition by Operam and forms part of a buy and build drive. It marks a significant milestone for the business as it expands its reach beyond the North and the Midlands.

CEO Eddie Austin said: “The acquisition of Horizon Teachers represents an important step forward, as the business moves confidently into the next phase of growth.

“In the last seven years we have established a strong platform that has enabled us to acquire highly complementary businesses that provide us with strength and depth – both from a sector perspective, as well as geographically.

“In the last 30 years, the sector has grown exponentially. However, the issue of staffing remains a real pain point for our clients in the education sector and one that we are committed to help address.

“Our supply staff workforce wants choice and flexibility – not only where they work, but the environment in which they work in.

“We can give them that choice, particularly as we grow the group through strategic acquisitions such as Horizon.”

Matt Hill and Nancy McDonnell founded Horizon Teachers in 2008.

They said: “We are pleased that Horizon Teachers is taking this huge step forward and becoming part of a like-minded, progressive and ambitious group such as Operam.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build upon the successes of the Horizon Teachers brand and to fast track the growth of the business.

“We are looking forward to entering this exciting new chapter with Operam Education Group.”

So far, Operam has acquired Provide Education, The Education Specialists, Teachers UK, Key Stage Teacher Supply, First for Education, Bridge Education, and Provision Recruitment.

Rob Johnson, investor at BGF, said: “Through a carefully executed buy and build strategy and strong organic growth, the team has built an excellent reputation in the market, while implementing robust systems and processes that enable the group to fulfil their growth ambitions.

“This acquisition will place them on a strong footing to compete nationally and enable them to work with large education groups as they strive for further growth.”

Ross Mather, relationship director at HSBC, added: “We are pleased to support the continued growth of Operam Education Group as its strategic banking partner and fund the Horizon Teachers acquisition.

“The acquisition represents a key milestone as Operam enters its next chapter, expanding its geographical reach to be able to support the education ecosystem around London and the home counties. We look forward to their continued success.”

Operam Education Group was advised by Squires Patton Boggs (legals). The advisory team was led by Leeds Corporate partner Mae Salem and included Paul Mann, Amelia Sharkey, Joshua Astill-Headley, Partick Ford, and Michael Atherton.

Horizon Teachers was advised by Grant Thornton (Corporate Finance) and Howes Percival (legals).

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