Business

Tyneside ed-tech group eQS swoops for London firm in seven-figure deal

A South Tyneside education specialist has acquired a London based group in a £1m-plus deal to put the group on track to top £30m turnover within two years.

Hebburn-based eQuality Solutions (eQS), an ed-tech specialist for inclusivity and mental wellbeing, is currently on an ambitious ‘buy and build’ strategy, backed by £20m funding from London-based Shard Credit Partners.

At the start of the year the firm made its first acquisition, snapping up Devon-based Amano Technologies.

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Now it has acquired London-based diversity and inclusion consultancy Equality Works Group (EW Group) in a seven-figure deal which eQS chief executive Andy Gough says will add complementary skills, products and services.

Established 29 years ago, EW Group provides consultancy and training services to public, private and not-for-profit organisations, helping them to build fair and inclusive working cultures, and tackle discrimination in the workplace including racism and sexism.

It has 60 people working with more than 1,500 organisations across 25 countries, including The Economist Group, the BBC, Dyson, adidas, Arsenal Football Club, URBN and The White Company.

The addition of EW Group will see eQS’s revenue exceed £10m.

Mr Gough said: “This acquisition is a critical step for eQS in the workplace market and our plan is to make further strategic acquisitions as we continue on our pathway to become the global leading provider in this specialist space across various sectors and geographies.

“The past couple of years have not only seen a global health crisis but also an awakening regarding social issues. Social movement campaigns such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Me Too,’ as well as the Government’s push for diversity at board level and Gender Pay Gap reporting requirements, have all brought to light key issues.

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“Business leaders are listening and investing in ED&I and mental wellbeing strategies, not only because it’s time for change, but also because diverse and inclusive workforces are proven to be better performing.

“EW Group shone as a leading light in the ED&I market and quickly became our top choice for our next acquisition due to its outstanding reputation. Upon first meeting with EW Group founder Jane Farrell, there was clear synergy. I believe we have a great mutual respect with regards to business culture, values and passion for doing good, and there was an instant comfortable feeling that we would work well together.”

EW Group founder Jane Farrell said: “Meeting eQS came just at the right time. The team stood out for understanding our journey and demonstrating a passion for protecting the EW Group brand identity and developing its legacy. The market is building momentum and I see my role in our new phase of growth with eQS as being a brand steward for EW Group; helping to maintain our authenticity but also excited to see it evolve as part of an exciting new chapter.”

EW Group’s senior management team will continue in their existing roles following the completion of the acquisition, with managing director Rachael Wilson driving forward further growth for the business alongside delivering product and service innovations.

Deal advisors for eQS were Newcastle-based RG Corporate Finance. Legal advice was provided by Ward Hadaway LLP.

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