BPP Education, a portfolio company of TDR Capital, has acquired UK-based Firebrand Training, an accelerated learning provider.

Firebrand appointed Grant Thornton to run the sale last February, as reported by this publication. The company was marketed off an EBITDA of around £4 million, with price expectation in the 10-12x region, according to three sources familiar with the process.

Following this transaction, Firebrand will continue to run as an independent business under the leadership of its existing team.

Firebrand generated revenue of £12.8 million in 2020, recording a decrease of around 30% on 2019, caused by the pandemic. Its core training business was the most affected, while apprenticeship revenue increased slightly thanks to high retention levels of existing apprentices, according to the company’s financial results.

Gross profit decreased to £8 million, from £10 million in 2019, while net operating profit amounted to 4.3% of turnover in 2020, compared to 7.3% in 2019.

The business started to grow again in 2021 and is expected to further increase its revenue in 2022, according to a source close to the company.

Established in 2001, Firebrand provides around 1,800 accelerated training courses, IT skills bootcamps, IT apprenticeships and certifications, both online and classroom-based, across a range of subjects including web development, cloud computing, cybersecurity, data protection, machine learning, software testing and project management.

BPP stated that this acquisition will provide valuable growth opportunities for both entities and will create revenue synergies. The company intends to support Firebrand by further investing in improving quality and customer experience, while expanding its offering.

BPP provides education and training in law, business, finance, accountancy, banking, technology, psychology, and nursing both through relationships with corporates and directly to consumers across test preparation, university, apprenticeship and professional development.

TDR acquired the company in March 2021 from Vanta Education, a global education network owned by Apollo Global Management and the Vistria Group. The firm deployed capital from its TDR Capital IV Fund to finance the deal.

The acquisition of Firebrand is the second add-on inked by BPP since it became a portfolio company of TDR. The firm previously acquired Estio Training from Palatine Private Equity in October 2021.

Houlihan Lokey advised BPP and TDR on the Firebrand transaction, while Grant Thornton advised Firebrand.

Date Published: 21 June 2022

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