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Growth Strategy

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.

Leading disability, diversity and inclusion specialist, eQuality Solutions Group (eQS), has acquired psychology experts The Educational Guidance Service (EGS) in a seven-figure deal.  

This is the third acquisition for the North East headquartered firm in only 10 months which will see eQS on track to achieve its target of £30m turnover by 2023.

Halifax-based EGS will add complementary capability to the Group’s disability services division, which currently provides specialist Assistive Technology equipment, software, training and mentoring in the education, workplace and government sectors.

Established 22 years ago, EGS, with a team of over 40 people, is one of the largest providers of Educational and Occupational Psychologists working with children, young people and adults who are experiencing specific learning difficulties and social/emotional barriers both within educational settings and the workplace (through its sister brand The Kade Consultancy).

The addition of EGS will see eQS Group revenues exceed £15m and takes the total employee headcount to c.80 in addition to 350 freelance psychologists, consultants, trainers and delivery engineers across the UK.

eQS CEO Andy Gough sees the acquisition of EGS as the next pivotal step in its ‘buy and build’ growth strategy to become the leading global provider of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) solutions. He said: “The past couple of years have not only seen a global health crisis but also an awakening regarding inclusion and acceptance of individuals identifying with a cognitive disability. This has created an even bigger demand for cognitive disability assessments within both the educational and workplace settings.

“EGS is a leader in this market and quickly became our top choice for our next acquisition due to its capability and outstanding reputation. Upon first meeting with EGS founder Alex Griffiths, it was clear EGS is a strong strategic fit for the Group, aligning with our purpose and mission. I believe we share a mutual passion for helping people achieve their best by removing barriers. I am looking forward to welcoming the EGS team into the eQS family and believe we will achieve great things together.“

EGS Founder Alex Griffiths said: “I have had many organisations interested in acquiring EGS over the last couple of years but eQS was the only acquirer I seriously considered for the business.  The eQS team stood out as down to earth people who understood what we were about and demonstrated a clear passion for looking after the EGS brand and developing it in the ‘EGS way’.  There was a synergy between our business culture and values, and a very obvious desire to look after the exceptional team who have helped us create this legacy of doing good and unlocking potential.”

EGS’ senior management team led by Managing Director Karen Jones and Operations Director Jane Goldthorpe will continue to run the day to day operations following the completion of the acquisition.

Advising eQS on the acquisition were Corporate Financiers Carl Swansbury, Rhiannon Nightingale, Connor McBride and Ben Kain of Newcastle-based RG Corporate Finance (RGCF), with financial and tax due diligence delivered by Grahame Maughan and Simon Whiteside of RG.

RGCF Director Rhiannon Nightingale said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for the team at eQS, having completed three strategic acquisitions in only 10 months. Bringing EGS into the group will certainly strengthen the group’s high-quality provision of disability services across the UK, which is a cornerstone of eQS’s vision to remove barriers to learning for all.”

Legal advice was provided by Corporate Partner Tom Pollard and Corporate Solicitor Liam Stubbs of Ward Hadaway LLP.

eQS secured a £20m funding package from Shard Credit Partners in December 2020, which will continue to fuel further acquisitions as they continue building a platform to become the leading global provider in D&I solutions across various sectors and geographies.

In January 2021 eQS made its first acquisition of South West-based Amano, expanding its geographic reach and adding capabilities in the education and workplace support market. Continuing on the ambitious growth plan, eQS acquired London-Based EW Group in June 2021, expanding further into the D&I sector and now adds to its disability services division with Halifax based EGS.

Advising Alex Griffiths on the sale of EGS was Fabio Rambelli of KBS.  Legal advice to Alex was provided by Jai Singh of Alston Asquith.