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Lil Bremermann-Richard, Group Chief Executive Officer

Why we invested

Oxford International was in a great position to capitalise on the UK’s global reputation for education and the increasingly international outlook of students and their parents. The company needed a backer that could support it in building its student intake, expanding its range of services and investing in its facilities and infrastructure.

Investing in education is a long-term strategy for Bowmark. Our belief is that the UK will continue to attract internationally mobile students as a result of demographic change and increasing incomes globally. Our view is that the UK’s unique mix of history, tradition, quality and language will help it retain its leading place in international education for years to come.

Oxford International stood out as the management team had already built an impressive international language business and had developed a well-defined strategy to grow significantly their academic provision. With the right backing, the Company’s network and capabilities could be leveraged to expand its offering and increase its international student volumes.

We couldn’t have asked for a better investor during the Covid-19 pandemic; the organisation was able to make changes where required as well as invest in development where opportunities were identified. Lil Bremermann-Richard, Group Chief Executive Officer

The result

Our investment offered Oxford International the opportunity to accelerate the expansion of its academic provision, attract new talent and grow through acquisition. In addition, Bowmark already had relationships with a number of leading schools from previous experience in the sector. As a result, we were able to use our market knowledge and transaction experience to identify and acquire two leading independent schools based in Oxford, d’Overbroeck’s and Oxford International College, as well as find new sites for further expansion. In 2019 and 2020 Oxford International College reached the top of the UK Independent School League Tables for A-level results.

Oxford International’s university partnerships business also grew significantly during our ownership, securing three new contracts with prestigious UK universities, and its first international partnership with Jacobs University in Germany. De Montfort University, the company’s first partner, anticipated enrolling 1,000 international students in the 2021/22 academic year, making it one of the largest such student cohorts in the UK. Oxford International also developed its language course provision further in the US and Canada and its online learning platform, OI Digital Institute, for partners and students globally.

We also helped the founders of the business take a step back from the day-to-day running of the business, appointing Chris Spanoudakis as Executive Chairman and, in 2019, Lil Bremermann-Richard as Group Chief Executive Officer. Lil had been Group Commercial Director since 2017 and played a key role in the development of the academic division.

Bowmark’s investment was realised in March 2021. The company’s schools division was sold to Nord Anglia Education, and its university partnerships, online learning and languages business were acquired in a secondary management buy-out. During our ownership, Oxford International more than doubled its group revenues – with the number of students in its schools and colleges increasing from 159 to 1,100, and the number in its university partnership programmes growing to over 2,000 from start-up.

Bowmark’s enthusiasm and support never waned during our partnership together. They more than lived up to our expectations with great insight and knowledge, helping us achieve an enriching and positive outcome for all our stakeholders. Chris Spanoudakis, Executive Chairman