December 21, 2020 @ 12:12 by Steven Hugill
A technology firm offering cognitive disability and mental wellbeing support aims to triple revenue over the next three years following a management buy-out.
eQuality Solutions (eQS), headquartered in Hebburn, has secured £20 million investment from London-based Shard Credit Partners to fund the deal, which has been led by chief executive Andy Gough.
He says the firm – which provides assistive technology equipment, training and software solutions to help remove barriers to learning – will grow through a rapid “buy and build” strategy.
“eQS is the number one provider in this specialist and vitally important sector,” said Andy.
“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.”
Founded 14 years ago, the business employs 40 full-time staff with 80 consultants operating nationwide and has experienced rapid growth over the last three years, with revenues and adjusted EBITDA expected to exceed £7 million and £2 million, respectively, in 2021.
Andy, who has more than 15 years’ tech experience, has run eQS for the past three years alongside chief financial officer Michael Hall, who was previously financial director of Maxim Facilities Management.
They are joined by non-executive chair Neil Stephenson, who is best known as the former chief executive 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 says the management buy-out will bolster efforts to build eQS into a large ed-tech business with a focus on inclusivity and mental wellbeing.
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.”
Alastair Brown, Shard Credit Partners’ chief executive, 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 £20 million 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 buy-out 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 management buy-out team by Ward Hadaway, led by corporate partner Tom Pollard.
He was supported by corporate solicitors Liam Stubbs and Hollie Walsh. 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 due diligence.
Carl Swansbury, RGCF partner and head of corporate finance, 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 management buy-out, 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 eQS over the coming months.”
Picture caption: Andy Gough, eQuality Solutions’ chief executive, right, with chief financial officer Michael Hall