Home Business Services North East Ed-Tech specialist eQS completes MBO with £20M investment

North East Ed-Tech specialist eQS completes MBO with £20M investment

left to right: RGCF Partner Carl Swansbury, eQuality Solutions CFO Michael Hall, RGCF Senior Manager Rhiannon Nightingale, eQuality Solutions CEO Andy Gough, Ward Hadaway Solicitor Liam Stubbs, Ward Hadaway Partner Tom Pollard

North East-headquartered eQuality Solutions (eQS) is embarking on a major growth strategy, having completed a management buy-out (MBO) of the business led by CEO Andy Gough.

eQS secured substantial investment from London-based Shard Credit Partners to fund the MBO and to provide significant funds for follow on acquisitions. The business is well placed to grow with ambitious plans to triple revenue over the next three years through a rapid ‘buy and build’ strategy.

From its HQ in Hebburn, the business employs 40 full-time staff with 80 consultants operating nationwide, providing assistive technology equipment, training and its own software solutions that help to remove barriers to learning. The business founded 14 years ago, has experienced rapid growth over the last three years with revenues and Adjusted EBITDA expected to exceed £7m and £2m respectively in 2021.
Commenting on the MBO, CEO Andy Gough said: “eQS is the number one provider in this specialist and vitally important sector. We are confident, from the platform already established, we can grow the business across the UK and take advantage of the many new opportunities we see ahead.”

Andy, who has over 15 years of tech experience, has successfully run eQS for the past 3 years alongside CFO, Michael Hall, who was previously FD of Maxim Facilities Management. They are joined by Non-Executive Chair Neil Stephenson, who is best known as the former CEO of North East-based internet provider Onyx Group, with the founder and serial entrepreneur Chris Quickfall retaining a minority stake in eQS and joining the board with a focus on strategy.

Andy sees the opportunity to build eQS into a large Ed-Tech business with a focus on inclusivity and mental wellbeing, something significant to his personal life too, he said: “This is an area close to my heart as I have two children with hidden disabilities. The investment we have secured from Shard will allow the business to continue its ambitious growth plans, providing specialist technology and services designed to help people, which will also result in significant job creation.”

Shard Credit Partners CEO Alastair Brown said: “This is an organisation on a positive growth trajectory driven by an experienced and talented management team and we are delighted to support its development with a £20m funding package to enable this change of ownership, but equally significantly, a platform for further organic and acquisition-driven expansion. The specialist services offered by eQS are vitally important to increasing societal inclusivity and we are looking forward to being part of its exciting future.”

Advising the eQS management team on the MBO was Carl Swansbury and Rhiannon Nightingale of RG Corporate Finance (RGCF), with tax advice from Simon Whiteside of RG Business Tax. Legal advice was provided to the MBO team by Ward Hadaway, led by Corporate Partner, Tom Pollard. He was supported by Corporate Solicitors, Liam Stubbs and Hollie Walsh and debt advice was provided by Partner, Imogen Holland.

Chris Quickfall received tax advice from EY and legal advice from Square One Law, through a team including, Corporate Partner, Marie-Louise Bozonet, Senior Associate, Luke Philpott and Head of Corporate, Mark Lazenby.

Shard Credit Partners were advised by law firm Gateley with RMT carrying out financial and tax DD.

RGCF Partner and Head of Corporate Finance Carl Swansbury said: “This is a clear signal of the eQS board’s ambition to deliver fast-track growth and we are delighted not only to have advised on the MBO, but to have also been appointed to support this strategy and to help identify suitable acquisition opportunities. We are very much looking forward to working with Andy and the management team to help them further develop and scale the eQS Group over the coming months.”