Lifetime Training grew its EBITDA by 13% to £14.8 million in the year ended 31 July, 2019, showcasing sound growth before the Covid-19 pandemic decimated the UK apprenticeship and training market.

The organisation, which is owned by European private equity firm Silverfleet Capital, provides apprenticeship training to businesses within the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors, which have been hit harder than most industries by the coronavirus crisis.

Filings with Companies House show that, year-on-year, Lifetime grew its sales to £71.5 million from £61.9 million.

Lifetime said it had incurred exceptional costs of around £1 million linked to the closure of a division that provided training to professionals within the beauty sector.

Accounting for this, EBITDAE for the period stood at £15.8 million, up from £13.6 million a year prior.

Profit for the year was £11.6 million, up from £10.8 million in 2018.

Government-imposed lockdown measures closed down training centres and other educational facilities in March, preventing many apprenticeship providers from fully delivering training courses, which often include face-to-face modules.

In May, apprenticeship starts – the most widely tracked metric in the sector – were down 60% on last year.

In its strategic report, Lifetime acknowledged the impact it would have on the business as its clients “operate in economic sectors that have seen significant disruption to their trading activities”.

As a result, Lifetime said it had utilised the UK government’s job retention scheme, placing an undisclosed number of staff on furlough.

“As apprentices continue to return to active learning, the company is continuing to review the levels of staff furloughed to ensure appropriate levels of resources are available to the learners, and also to support the trainer teams,” Lifetime said.

The company said that its board had reviewed “detailed projections” on the pandemic’s impact on future financial performance.

These forecasts have been shared with lenders, the firm added, which have been “supportive in agreeing appropriate amendments to covenants”, none of which had been breached as of 29 July, 2020, when the financial statement was signed off.

“After careful consideration of the information, the board is satisfied that the company will continues to meet its financial obligations when due for a period of at least 12 months… and that preparing the financial statements on a going concern basis is appropriate,” Lifetime said.

Last July, Silverfleet Capital hired bankers from Houlihan Lokey to explore a sale of Lifetime, which garnered interest from KKR and CapVest, as reported exclusively by this publication in March.

But, once the impact of Covid-19 on the business became clearer, Silverfleet Capital decided to shelve the sale, EducationInvestor Global reported exclusively in May.

It is understood that Silverfleet Capital will retain ownership of the firm for at least another 18 months – potentially three years – in order to eke out adequate profits.

Date published: 6 August 2020

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