The founders of a UK-based school software provider have instructed corporate financiers to find a buyer for the business, for which first-round bids are being collected this month, EducationInvestor Global can reveal. 

This publication has learnt that Grant Thornton is overseeing an auction of Every, which sells compliance- and HR-management solutions to schools and multi-academy trusts (MATs). 

Two sources said that a prospectus for the Leeds-headquartered company puts its annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) at around £1 million.

Grant Thornton understood to have approached several trade buyers and lower-mid-market private equity houses and is expected to receive first-round offers for Every before the end of September. Pricing expectations are unclear at this stage. 

Every’s software solutions are designed streamline in-school compliance and HR functions. The firm’s digital dashboard is said to be valuable to MATs, some of which encompass dozens of schools, because it provides insights into schools’ operations through interactive charts and data points, and also has reporting functionality, ultimately saving HR and compliance officers time. 

Every was founded in 2010 by chief executive Ian Bond and Adam Watson, both of whom have more than 20 years’ experience in software development. 

Every trades under Sandgate Systems Limited, which in 2012 was acquired by TSL Education (the former owner of Tes Global and Times Higher Education, then backed by Charterhouse) before being taken private again in 2015 by Bond and Watson, who remain majority shareholders in Sandgate.

Investor appetite for school software providers with recurring revenue streams has deepened amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced schools and MATs to accelerate digitisation strategies after being forced to close down by governments for extended periods of time. 

Grant Thornton has also been mandated to sell founder-owned Orovia Group, which sells payroll, HR and budgeting software to schools, independents and MATs, as revealed by EIG. Buyout group ECI Partners, meanwhile, has instructed GCA Altium to steer a £150 million-plus sale of its portfolio company CPOMS, a provider of safeguarding software to schools, as reported

Last year, the incumbent in the UK’s school management information software (MIS) market, SIMS, was acquired by Montagu Private Equity from Capita, while its competitor iSAMS was sold to IRIS Software Group, in a deal also orchestrated by Grant Thornton. Two other leading MIS providers, Arbor Education and The Key, merged, and in the process received a minority investment from CBPE Capital. 

Grant Thornton, which is also seeking a minority investor for online continuing professional development provider National Education Group, did not respond to an emailed request for comment on behalf of Every’s shareholders.

Date published: 13 September 2021

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