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11/08/2008

40 years in training and the company's bought by the staff

The employees of one of Wales’ longest-established training organisations are riding a wave of excitement after buying the company from its previous owners with investment from Finance Wales.


The 18 staff are now joint owners of TSW Training Ltd, the company they set up after buying out Bridgend-based TSW from Training Trust (Wales), and say there is a mood of excitement in the business as they prepare to consolidate the achievements of 40 years’ trading in Wales.

The buy-out was led by three key managers with the support of professional advisors Broomfield and Alexander, working with the Wales Co-operative Centre. The employees secured more than 40 per cent of the funding required for the deal from Finance Wales, a provider of commercial funding to SMEs in Wales, with additional investment coming from the Co-op’s Community and Co-operative Finance fund and Barclays Bank as well as the employees.

Carrine Williams, one of three managers who took the lead in mounting the competitive bid for the business, is now CEO. She said that when she and her colleagues, John Nash and Stuart Davies, heard of the Trust’s decision to sell, they could not bear the thought of another owner benefiting from the staff’s hard work over many years. “This is a very successful business which has been built up through the commitment of past and existing staff,” she said. “The incentive for us to put our bid together was thinking that someone else would come along and take over what we had put together. We are the business! The magnitude of what we have undertaken only really hit home afterwards. But all the help we had made it easier. Now there is a real mood of excitement – the feeling in the building has changed because we are all involved.”

TSW was set up in 1966, and grew to become one of the leaders in management and skills training in Wales with clients ranging from local authorities, police forces and emergency services, to DARA, the Royal Mint and private companies such as Dow Corning, Sigma 3 Kitchens and Staedtler UK Ltd. With its own modern bespoke training facilities in Bridgend, it built a reputation on responding to industry needs, developing work-based learning, including Modern Apprentices, and management training as the mainstays of the business.

Carrine Williams said TSW Training Ltd was committed to building on this base. “We have always been employer-led. Training has got to be there to serve the industry which is buying it, and we will continue in this vein of being responsive to businesses’ needs,” she said.

Karen Davies, Investment Executive at Finance Wales, said such employee buy-outs were critical to ensuring the continued success of many established businesses. “Succession is often one of the last considerations for an SME and yet it’s one of the most important long-term aspects for a business to ensure successful continuation and secure employment,” said Karen. “The opportunity for the employees at TSW Training Ltd to buy the company was imperative to ensure its future and to allow them to seek further growth potential.”

Mark Hislop, who with colleague Ravi Nalliah led the Broomfield & Alexander team, said they had advised the management team on the purchase, fundraising and deal management. “It’s great to see the results of a successful employee buyout, with the staff of this well-respected company all fired up toachieve even greater heights. We wish them all well,” he said.

Norman Watson, Business Succession Advisor at the Wales Co-operative Centre, said, “TSW Training Ltd is the third employee-owned training company in Wales, each one having received advice from the Wales Cooperative Centre. This proves that employee-owned businesses can succeed in a competitive marketplace.”