Palatine Private Equity has completed the sixth investment from its Impact Fund, acquiring a minority stake in training company Back2Work Group, a deal exclusively revealed by EducationInvestor Global back in August.

Palatine’s £100 million Impact Fund, which invests in profitable businesses making a positive impact on the environment or society, will now support Manchester-based Back2Work Group, which delivers training to help the long-term unemployed return to work, retrain or reskill.

It also offers a digital marketing apprenticeship programme and runs online training courses for employed people to support career progression in sectors such as health and social care.

Founded in 2010 by managing director Luke Muscat and chairman Tony Bailey, Back2Work has grown recently. On the back of a number of long-term contracts to deliver pre-employment training for the devolved combined authorities, annual revenues have risen to £11.5 million. Back2Works has also increased its headcount to more than 140 employees, supporting more than 11,000 people with training annually. 

The company works with companies in the warehousing, logistics, IT, digital, health and social care and construction sectors to help fill vacancies.

Back2Work said it also responded to the logistical challenges of lockdown – and within two weeks switched from classroom-based face-to-face learning to online delivery.

James Gregson, senior investment director for Palatine’s Impact Fund said: “Back2Work is an excellent business delivering a clear social impact by helping people return to work and gain new skills. Back2Work is a compelling investment for the Impact Fund with a highly relevant proposition as the UK adjusts to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which will inevitably create new requirements for retraining and upskilling.

“With further devolution of adult education budgets on the horizon, we see strong potential for further organic growth across all parts of the business. Given the scale of the opportunity in the training sector and our track record in buy and build, we are also keen to consider potential acquisition opportunities.”

James Gregson and Palatine investment director James Painter are joining the Back2Work board. Former Staffline Group and ITG chair, Tracy Lewis is also joining the business.

Clydesdale Yorkshire Bank provided banking support on the deal.

Palatine’s legal advice was provided by Pinsent Masons, financial advice by Deloitte, and commercial advice by Cairneagle Associates. Quinn Partnership provided management advice and insurance advice was provided by Marsh.

Back2Work’s shareholders were advised by Clearwater International on their options, and Beyond Corporate provided legal advice.

Date published: 27 October 2020

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