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Oxford International

Investment March 2014

SectorEducation and Training

Business Schools, colleges and university pathway programmes

Growth StrategyBuy-and-Build

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 an investor 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. We believe 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 developed a well-defined strategy to grow its 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.

School and university pathway students

3,100

The result

Our investment offered Oxford International the opportunity to accelerate the expansion of its academic services, attract new talent and grow through acquisition. Bowmark had relationships with a range of excellent schools from previous experience in the sector. We were able to use this market knowledge 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 development and 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 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 in the US and Canada and its online learning platform, OI Digital Institute, for partners and students globally.

We helped the founders of the business take a step back from its day-to-day running, and together we appointed 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 was acquired in a secondary management buy-out. During our period of investment, the number of students in the group’s schools and colleges increased from 160 to 1,100, and the number in its university pathway programmes from start-up to over 2,000.

Bowmark’s team takes the time to understand the business, the people and the levers that make the organisation a success. They are considered and respectful. They truly work with management to ensure that their input will add value. Simultaneously, they give management the space and trust to run the business in the way they know best and jointly deliver growth and value to all stakeholders.

Oxford International 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. All I have left to say is ‘thank you’ Bowmark for your support and trust!
Lil Bremermann-Richard,Group Chief Executive Officer
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

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