UK mid-market firm Close Brothers Private Equity has bought vocational training company Protocol Skills from Bridgepoint-backed parent Protocol Group for £46.5 million ($94.9 million, €66.7 million).
The sale is a partial exit for Bridgepoint, the European firm led by William Jackson, from the educational and training company Protocol, which now has three other divisions remaining. Bridgepoint bought the company in 1999 for £40 million.
Protocol Skills has a turnover of £35 million. It provides apprenticeships and non-vocational qualifications to approximately 15,000 learners per year.
Protocol Skills is one of three national vocational training providers in the ‘work-based learning’ market in the UK. Vocational skills have become a key focus of the UK government, especially since the publication of the Leitch Review of Skills in 2006. As a result the market is growing at 13 percent per annum.
The firm provides services to the retail and hospitality sectors including Wal-Mart backed supermarket ASDA, mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse and fast food giant McDonald's. These sectors are one of the highest users of vocational skills training.