We advised Now Education on its MBO which valued the business at £28m.
Founded in 2010 by Alex Westworth and Gary Redman, Now Education is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of staff for primary, secondary and SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) schools across England and Wales.
The company, which provides around 1,600 supply staff to more than 800 schools per week, recruits in more than 20 regions and has permanent offices in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Lincoln, Liverpool, London and Nottingham.
Comprising a team of nearly 40 consultants and ten back-office support staff, 95% of its business is from contract revenue with more than 75% of placements six weeks in length or longer.
Gary, the majority stakeholder, instigated the project by expressing a desire to step back from the business and enjoy the rewards of his many years of hard work. He was also keen, however, to have a continuing influence that would enable the company to make use of his knowledge and experience as it continued to grow.
The business was, and remains, in a healthy state; it has grown consistently since its inception with forecasted gross profit of £7.9m and £3.9m adjusted EBITDA for FY23 (figures that are predicted to double by FY27). This is made possible by its innovative shared equity model that sees proven and successful consultants fully supported in launching their own Now Education offices in new regions across the UK.
Shaw & Co considered various options before it was decided that an MBO (Management Buyout) led by Alex Westworth would be the ideal outcome, backed by an appropriate institutional investor.
Shaw & Co ran a selection process comprising a range of appropriate institutional investors with the most suitable being found in Prefequity LLP.
Prefequity LLP was ideally placed as the preferred partner as it uses debt-based structures that includes a long-term loan instrument and a minority warrant, thereby accommodating a lower equity dilution, no pressure for a future exit, and potential for follow-on investment. Its proposal would see the management team retain full control of the business and allow Gary to sell his shares, while also supporting the company’s ambitions for future growth.
The deal valued the company at £28m, with Prefequity providing £14m of financing. A new board was formed comprising Alex as Managing Director, his co-buyer Lee Gallier as Finance Director, Gary as Chair, and Johnny Carew Pole from Prefequity as Director.
“The Shaw & Co team provided us with the ideal solution. This deal not only enables me and the rest of our shareholders to shape and drive the future growth of Now Education, it also ensures that Gary is still there to impart his vast knowledge of the education and recruitment sectors.”
Alex Westworth, CEO, Now Education
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