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Acquisition supports training ambitions

Carter & Carter has bought a motor industry training business in Northern Ireland, and hopes to tap into the province’s automotive skills requirements.

The Nottingham-based group said its acquisition of Blackwater House for £980,000 will support a recent tender win in the region, and will position Carter & Carter to tender for further contracts in Northern Ireland.

The group was recently awarded its first significant contract from the Department for Education & Learning in Northern Ireland to deliver apprenticeship training. It expects this to generate revenues of around £5m in the first three years.

The news brought relief to investors. Since falling to 52p in July, its share price increased to 120p by the end of August.

That is still only one-tenth of the 1273p high reached in April before the death of founder Philip Carter and warnings that take-up of its Government-funded programmes was below expectations.

Rodney Westhead, Carter & Carter’s non-executive chairman and interim chief executive, said the acquisition “provides Carter & Carter with a footprint in Northern Ireland from which to grow in the region”.

He added: “This important contract win, together with our recent success in the Learning & Skills Council tender rounds, clearly demonstrates the organic growth opportunities in the work-based learning sector.”

Blackwater House, established in 1998 as a purpose-built operation for training in mechanical, body repair, auto electrics, diagnostics and heavy vehicle engineering, was bought from Component Distributors Limited, a Northern Irish company specialising in sales, distribution and marketing of automotive aftermarket related products. The business, based near Belfast with a subsidiary near Dublin, is an IMI-accredited training centre.

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