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Yorkshire Bank backs buy-out of JHP Group

JHP Group, one of the UK’s largest private sector providers of vocational education, skills training and employability programmes, has been bought by its management team in a transaction backed by private equity firm LDC and Yorkshire Bank.

Founded by Hugh Pitman in 1983, Coventry-based JHP operates a national network of 57 centres as well as delivering training in employees’ workplaces nationwide.

The business services more than 3,000 clients, from small and medium sized companies to major organisations such as the Ministry of Defence, RBS Insurance, Royal & Sun Alliance and Barclays. .

Led by chief executive officer Jim Chambers, its management team has acquired a minority shareholding while LDC, the private equity division of Lloyds Banking Group, has invested GBP30m for a significant majority stake. Yorkshire Bank provided a GBP26m package of senior debt.

Over the last three years, JHP has almost doubled sales to GBP44m following successive contract wins, fuelled by rising demand from the public and private sectors.

The transaction will enable the company to capitalise on opportunities created by the ongoing consolidation in the skills and training services sector while continuing its organic growth strategy, particularly the increasing emphasis on welfare to work programmes.

Chambers says: “We have delivered significant growth over the past few years as a result of increased commitment in the public and private sectors to tackling employment issues and skills gaps in the UK economy.

“The market in which we operate is consolidating and LDC’s investment will allow us to capitalise on potential opportunities to acquire strategically aligned businesses which expand our capabilities or geographical coverage, as well as continuing to grow organically.”

The Yorkshire Bank team was led by Ruth Cherry and Mike Selina, directors with the corporate and structured finance team in Leeds.

Cherry says: “We always aim to back successful management teams but we were particularly impressed on this transaction with the dedication and passion of JHP’s directors.”

John Swarbrick, Alex Bowden and Tony Norwood led the transaction on behalf of LDC. Swarbrick and Bowden will join the JHP board.

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