A new company which aims to provide a ‘buy and build’ platform for businesses in the education recruitment sector has completed its first deal with its investment in Provide Education Limited, the Yorkshire-based education recruitment agency.

Operam Education Limited has been set up by two experienced industry operators, Eddie Austin and Andrew Frome, who will now join Provide Education as CEO and Non-Executive CFO respectively. The deal was initiated by Dow Schofield Watts on behalf of Operam Education and funded by a senior debt package from HSBC.

Provide Education provides supply teachers and other staff to schools and nurseries across Yorkshire, the East Midlands, Greater Manchester and the North East from its headquarters in Barnsley and offices in Brighouse, Worksop and Billingham. The agency was founded in 2006 by Katie Buckle and Barry-John Simmons, who will continue in their roles as Joint Managing Directors and shareholders as part of the deal.

Eddie Austin, an education sector specialist and ex-Managing Director at Manchester-based ITN Mark Education and Sugarman Education in London, said: “Andrew and I are delighted to have invested in Provide Education as the first stage in the development of Operam and as part of facilitating longer-term succession planning for Katie and Barry. 

“Our vision for Operam is straightforward – to create an attractive platform for the owners of companies in the education recruitment sector, providing them with the necessary guidance and support to drive continued growth and achieve a successful outcome. A key part of our investment strategy is to retain the entrepreneurial spirit that companies were founded upon, ensuring staff remain incentivised and recognise the opportunity that being part of Operam offers them.”

Buckle and Simmons commented: “We are very pleased to be welcoming Eddie and Andrew into Provide Education as part of the next stage in the company’s evolution.  Operam’s ethos, being a focus on long-term organic growth for the benefit of all parties and in particular our existing employees, is completely aligned with ours”.

The transaction is the DSW Yorkshire team’s second deal in the recruitment sector in the last three months and was advised by Tony Norwood, Paul Herriott and Matt Thompson.  Norwood commented: “This completely collaborative transaction represents a great outcome for all stakeholders and we are delighted to have advised on the deal.  Operam’s highly differentiated offering will undoubtedly help support the succession planning for many smaller and privately owned companies in the sector over the next few years”. 

A team from HSBC Corporate Banking, led by Relationship Director Scott Christian, provided the debt package which included a term loan and invoice discounting facilities. Christian said: “It’s great to be working with Eddie and Andrew again having supported them previously. They have unparalleled levels of knowledge and experience in the sector and we look forward to working with them both as lender to Provide Education and in relation to future potential Operam acquisitions.” 

Rob McCarthy and Jeff Gardner, from the DSW Transaction Services team, completed financial due diligence on the deal.   Matt Ainsworth and Russell Bainbridge of HLW Keeble Hawson in Sheffield provided legal advice to Buckle and Simmons with Sean Fitzgerald and Rachel Clarkson of Ward Hadaway in Manchester advising Austin and Frome.  Nasim Sharf of Rollits provided legal advice to HSBC Corporate Banking. Russ Cahill, of the Tax Advisory Partnership in Leeds provided tax advice on the deal.