Bridges Ventures invests in Babington Business College

8th December 2009

Bridges Ventures announces that its Venture Fund has invested in the acquisition of Babington Business College (“Babington”), an East Midlands based vocational training company with a turnover of £2.4m. The College has seven training centres and will provide Bridges Ventures with an opportunity to build on its strategy of pursuing investments in the education sector, […]

Bridges Ventures announces that its Venture Fund has invested in the acquisition of Babington Business College (“Babington”), an East Midlands based vocational training company with a turnover of £2.4m. The College has seven training centres and will provide Bridges Ventures with an opportunity to build on its strategy of pursuing investments in the education sector, along with the healthcare and environmental sectors, in some of the under invested areas that Bridges Ventures targets.  Chris Payne, with over 25 years of experience in training, will join to lead the company as Managing Director.

Babington provides LSC funded apprenticeship training in accountancy, business administration, customer service and financial advice and has a diverse employer base.  In the year ended 31 July 2009 it reported turnover of £2.4m. The company has training centres in Derby, Dewsbury, Nottingham, Lichfield, Stoke, Bristol and Sheffield, and attains high learner achievement rates and a strong Ofsted rating. Bridges Ventures believes there is significant opportunity to build a national training company delivering employer-led apprenticeship training to 16-25 year olds using Babington as a positive entry to market.

Incoming Managing Director, Chris Payne, jointly introduced the Babington opportunity to Bridges Ventures with Andrew Ryder of accountants and business advisers, PKF. Chris is highly experienced in the government-funded training sector and he will be joined by Frank Lord as Executive Chairman, who is currently Chair of the Derbyshire Education Business Partnership and Derbyshire Employment and Skills Board.

Over two thirds of Babington’s current training centres are based in Bridges Ventures’ target areas.  This investment builds on Bridges Ventures’ successful record of backing businesses that can achieve intrinsic social or environmental impacts, as well as attractive financial returns, within the UK’s most deprived areas. Babington will be the company’s third investment within the education sector having previously invested in School Stickers and New Career Skills.

Chris Payne, Managing Director of Babington Business College said:

“This is an ideal time to lead Babington and take it to a higher level, building on the strengths whilst also offering something new and different in the training sector. I am excited about the potential of establishing Babington as one of the country’s leading training companies offering real career progression and training solutions for employers. Working with PKF and the management team has enabled us to secure the funding from a unique VC, Bridges Ventures, which shares the same ethical values of making a real difference to people and their communities.”

Anne-Marie Harris, Investment Director at Bridges Ventures added:

“Babington Business College offers us the perfect opportunity to build on our strategy of pursuing educational investments. This investment allows us to make a substantial commitment in the vocational training sector which has significant growth opportunities. We would like to thank PKF for introducing us to the transaction and for its assistance throughout the process.

We have invested to acquire Babington with a commitment to invest further when appropriate consolidation opportunities are identified.  We look forward to working with the new management team.”



Media enquiries:

Please contact HB Communication on +44 (0)20 7637 2780 or email on: Tom Hampson-Bellon    /    Antonia Coad

Notes to Editors:

Bridges Ventures

Bridges Ventures is an investment company established in 2002 as a fund manager with a social mission whose commercial expertise is used to achieve social or environmental aims as well as attractive returns for investors.  Four funds have been raised to date: Venture Funds I & II, the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund and the Bridges Sustainable Property Fund.

Venture Fund I totaled £40m while Venture Fund II totaled £75m, beating its original target of £50m by 50%, and was closed in 2007. Investors in the second fund include HSBC, Co-operative Financial Services, Barclays Business Banking, Lloyds TSB, and Citigroup, individuals including Tom Singh of 3i, Dr Mike Lynch of Autonomy Corporation, Harvey McGrath of Man Group and Lloyd Dorfman of Travelex, as well as pension funds and endowments including the Universities Superannuation Scheme, the West Midlands Pension Fund and All Souls College.

The Venture Funds invest in businesses based in regeneration areas and in sustainable business sectors such as the environment, education and healthcare. Bridges Ventures typically invests up to £10m at a time in ambitious, entrepreneurial businesses including early stage, development capital and management buy-outs. So far, £52m has been invested in 30 companies, many of whose employees have come out of long-term unemployment. To date there have been five successful exits: Harlands in Hull, SimplySwitch in South London, HS Atec in Yorkshire, EB2 in South London and IDL in Bournemouth.

Bridges Ventures’ key backers include Sir Ronald Cohen, co-founder and former chairman of Apax Partners, 3i and Doughty Hanson.

In August 2009 the Bridges Ventures Charitable Trust launched the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund a quasi-equity fund which provides an innovative financing solution that is tailored to the needs of ambitious social enterprises. The fund has grown in recent months to £8.5m.

Bridges Ventures recently launched the Bridges Sustainable Property Fund, which will invest in properties in regeneration areas and environmentally sustainable buildings that have potential to make strong financial returns as well as delivering social and environmental impact.

For more information please go to

Chris Payne

Dr. Chris Payne has operated his own business since 2001 providing an interim senior management and leadership service for training and education organisations. He has worked in the post-16 sector for over 25 years – for Colleges, independent training providers and government agents.  His career included leading, as executive director, two national training companies; all of which has been underpinned by his personal commitment to lifelong learning.

He is best known for his success in corporate training (regionally and nationally) and as an experienced leader offers Babington the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience to continue its success in the ever-evolving world of post 16 education & training.

Frank Lord

Frank has helped build many successful businesses and contributed to many others based on his passion for and belief in people development, serving on National and Regional boards in the public, voluntary and private sectors, including the education board of the BBC and Managing Director of Education Lecturing Services (Protocol).  He was also previously Chair of the North Nottinghamshire and North Derbyshire Skills Board.

Frank’s business pedigree and passion for skills development mean that he is ideally placed to represent the needs and interests of Babington.  He is particularly interested in the need to stimulate greater collaboration with local employers in the development of fit-for-purpose training and development opportunities.

Bridges Ventures’ Advisers

Bridges Ventures’ legal advisers were Weil, Gotshal & Manges (Mark Soundy); Financial Due Diligence was completed by Tenon (Julian Clough).

Management Team’s Advisers

Management team’s corporate finance advisers were the Sheffield office of PKF (Andrew Ryder); legal advisers were Keeble Hawson (Paul Trudgill).

PKF Accountants & Business Advisers

1. PKF (UK) LLP is a leading firm of accountants and business advisers with more than 1,500 partners and staff operating in 23 offices in the UK mainland firm, incorporating a wholly-owned financial planning company and associated offshore practices. The firm specialises in advising growing and entrepreneurial/owner-managed businesses, AIM and fully listed companies, and also has extensive experience in the public and not-for-profit sectors. Principal services include assurance and advisory; taxation; consultancy; corporate recovery and insolvency; corporate finance and forensic. The firm has particular expertise in advising sectors such as hotels and leisure; mining and resource; public sector; real estate and construction; professional practices; not-for-profit; and medical. The firm’s web site is

2. PKF (UK) LLP also offers financial services through its FSA authorised company, PKF Financial Planning Limited. PKF (Isle of Man) LLC is a limited liability company registered in the Isle of Man. PKF (Guernsey) Limited is incorporated in Guernsey.

3. PKF (UK) LLP is a member firm of the PKF International Limited network of legally independent firms. The PKF International Limited network has around 15,000 people operating in 120 countries around the world.


Related News

View all
2nd July 2024

Bridges announces leadership evolution ahead of next growth phase

Michele Giddens will now be sole CEO of the firm, with Philip Newborough moving to a new role as Executive Chair.

Read more
27th February 2024

Bridges exits specialist plant-based food supplier Vegetarian Express

We’re delighted to announce our successful exit from Vegetarian Express, the specialist plant-based ingredients supplier, to NVM Private Equity.

Read more
7th February 2024

Landmark £88m forward funding deal for west London co-living scheme

Bridges and HUB have agreed an £88m forward funding deal with Singapore-based CDL to deliver Yardhouse, our co-living scheme in west London.

Read more
6th February 2024

Construction to begin on sustainable logistics scheme in Bracknell

Bridges and Barwood have secured planning consent to build a new 50,000 sq.ft highly sustainable logistics development in Bracknell, Berkshire.

Read more