Charme III case study

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Investment Highlights:

  • Origination: Charme identified Witherslack as the highest quality operator in the sector and acquired the business in the summer of 2017, pre-empting a sales process that was scheduled to begin in September. Charme was able to complete the investment by working in a discreet and expedient manner without alerting the market
  • Co-investor & strategic alliance: As part of the transaction, Charme facilitated the majority seller, Livingbridge, to reinvest alongside Charme as a minority. During the investment period, Charme worked in tandem with Livingbridge and the management team to unlock rapid growth potential
  • Transformative organic growth: Charme helped management execute their organic growth strategy that saw Witherslack rapidly expand its geographic presence
  • Managed Exit: In the summer of 2021, Charme sold its majority position to Mubadala, retaining a minority stake to allow continued exposure to the business’ future growth

A selection of Witherslack schools

Photos of Witherslack Schools

Investment Summary

Witherslack is a UK-headquartered business that owns and operates Special Educational Needs Schools and associated Children’s Homes catering for children with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs (SEMH) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Witherslack educates and cares for some of the highest acuity children in the UK and has been consistently ranked as being one of the best quality providers by Ofsted, the sector’s overseeing regulatory body. Fees are Government-funded and predominantly come from the Higher Needs education block.

At the time of acquisition, Witherslack was still predominantly based in the North West of England and saw an opportunity to expand across England using its ‘hub and spoke’ strategy of schools and supporting Children’s homes. The business was also keen to further develop its innovative Integrated Learning Centre model for young people with the most acute support needs.

Charme and management executed a highly successful fully organic roll out to the rest of England centred on:

  • Maintaining best-in-class quality ratings – Witherslack has grown the number of sites whilst keeping its best-in-class ratings with Ofsted
  • Investment in central function – Charme invested in central operational functions, including Clinical / Therapeutic, Quality Assurance, HR, and Property functions. This allows Witherslack to provide high levels of bespoke and targeted support to young people and to hire, train and retain the best teachers / carers when opening new sites
  • Building a property pipeline – potential sites found, assessed and chosen based on proprietary database and KPIs which allowed the level of need to be mapped by postcode

    After 4 years of ownership and a successful expansion into the Midlands, the South West and the Greater London Area, Charme sold its majority position to Mubadala and reinvested alongside as a minority investor.

    Expansion Highlights

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