A private equity-backed software group has entered exclusive talks to acquire Every, a provider of compliance and HR software to schools, in a deal that would value the company in excess of £20 million, EducationInvestor Global can reveal.

This publication has learnt that IRIS Software Group, a multi-billion-pound organisation backed by Hg and Intermediate Capital Group, is close to acquiring Every from its founders.

Leeds-headquartered Every, which sells compliance- and HR-management solutions to schools and multi-academy trusts, was brought to market earlier this year by Grant Thornton, which marketed its annual EBITDA as around £1 million, as reported.  

It is understood that IRIS tabled a bid for Every equal to more than 20-times EBITDA – fending off competition from other strategic suitors and allowing it to progress into a period of exclusivity within which a deal is expected to be finalised.

One source noted that a deal could complete within weeks but is not guaranteed.

IRIS had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

IRIS expanded its footprint in the education sector last year with its purchase of iSAMS, a school management information system (MIS) provider used by a third of British private schools, for which it paid more than £60 million.

Every’s solutions complement iSAMS’ core MIS offering, one source said, pointing to the cross-selling opportunity across each company’s client bases.

Every’s software is designed to streamline in-school compliance and HR functions. The firm’s digital dashboard is said to be valuable to MATs, because it provides insights into schools’ operations through interactive charts and data points, and has reporting functionality, ultimately saving HR and compliance officers’ time.

Every was founded in 2010 by chief executive Ian Bond and Adam Watson, both of whom have more than 20 years’ experience in software development.

Every trades under Sandgate Systems Limited, which in 2012 was acquired by TSL Education (the former owner of Tes Global and Times Higher Education, then backed by Charterhouse) before being taken private again in 2015 by Bond and Watson, who remain majority shareholders in Sandgate.

It is unclear whether Bond and Watson will remain with, or shareholders in, Every if IRIS closes an acquisition.

Grant Thornton – which has also been mandated to sell Orovia Group, a provider of payroll, HR and budgeting software to schools, independents and MATs, as reported – had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Date published: 8 October 2021

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