Daniel: Bright Futures is a specialist care and education provider to adults and children with learning disabilities, autism, and challenging behaviour. All of our residential services, as well as the school, are rated good or outstanding.
James: The founder and owner of Bright Futures, Paul, was actually looking to sell the business in its entirety in 2017 as he was looking to step back and retire. Paul was quite surprised that a financial investor or private equity investor like Livingbridge could understand his market and his business in the way that we did.
Daniel: The key part when the Livingbridge investment took place was to find a successor to the previous owner who was exiting the organisation. Livingbridge went through their talent portfolio – I was identified from that, as was my chief finance officer. I worked a lot with the former owner in that handover process, and he and his team were also a key part of making that decision.
James: What was really important for the transition was the fact that Livingbridge understood the business model and we found a way to engage with the existing staff team that made them feel comfortable that they had a new private equity owner who wasn’t Paul, but that many of the good things about Bright Futures were going to remain. They had a new investor who was committed to growing the business and looking after more people with learning disabilities and autism in this space, and also offering them more career opportunities in an expanding group.
Daniel: In the time that Livingbridge has been involved with Bright Futures, we’ve been able to acquire a significant number of properties for our adults’ and children’s growth, as well as education growth.
James: Since the investment, we’ve opened 1 new service so far with 8 beds in it. Later this year, we’ll open an extension to another service, which will add another 3 beds onto the capacity. Then, we have a well-developed plan over the next 3 years to add somewhere around 10 beds per annum across 2 to 3 new sites in each year, as well as a plan to expand the school from the current level of 45 initially to 50 places and then hopefully to a further 20 places, taking that to 70, over the same period.
Daniel: When we look back 12 months and look at the year to date to where we are today, we’ve seen revenue growth of 13% retained, and in some areas, that’s increased the levels of quality in the organisation.
James: We’re really happy with how the investment in Bright Futures has gone so far in the first 2 years. It’s no mean feat to have enabled that transition for Paul in the first 6 months to have recruited a new team to come in and also hit the ground running with a development plan in those first 2 years.
Daniel: Livingbridge really does stand out in the private equity market as really understanding what providing high-quality acute care is about. Their input into the organisation is incredibly supportive – they allow myself as the chief executive to get on and run the organisation, but at the same time, one of the real benefits is they’ll share their wider market knowledge with me. They understand that quality is crucial, and they understand the need to invest to achieve scale. Their ethos and their values are very much aligned to the quality of care that we provide.