Wexford-based Chevron College expects profits to more than double this year to €2.5m due to huge growth in the online learning sector since the pandemic began.
CEO Karl Fitzpatrick said that a strong pipeline meant that he expects the business to double in size between now and 2025. He said he had turned down takeover offers from British and Irish venture capital firms to focus on further growth.
“They can see the growth in this market and that is why they’re interested,” said Fitzpatrick. The firm’s earnings (ebitda) are expected to grow from €1.5m in 2020 to €2.5m this year and to €3.5m next year. “We have good visibility on this and we expect turnover of €7m this year to grow beyond €10m next year,” he said.
Chevron, which trained 6,000 students in 2020, itself has gone on the acquisition trail, buying Carlow-based English Language Ireland and with plans to buy two further education providers. Staff numbers at the online educator have doubled during the course of the pandemic to about 80.
“There’s a lot of people running their own training businesses in Ireland who are due to retire in the next number of years and they provide potential for bolt-on acquisitions,” he said.
Chevron was established by Fitzpatrick in 2005 to provide security training after new legislation mandated qualifications for security guards. Fitzpatrick subsequently offered training courses to avail of similar opportunities in energy rating and water meter installation.
“We were extremely successful at identifying a training need and providing courses to meet that need. “But one of the challenges we had as each of these became saturated was to continuously reinvent the business to meet those needs.”
“We did a lot of research at the time and looked at what was coming down the tracks in terms of mandatory training in regulated sectors from a European perspective,” he said.
The company has since focused on childcare, healthcare and renewable energy because of the ongoing training opportunities in those sectors. It has joined forces with a number of UK universities to offer online degree and master’s programmes in Ireland.
Fitzpatrick said that the pandemic had accelerated the transition to online training by at least five years in terms of people’s willingness to take such courses.
“The pandemic has made online learning mainstream. People have had an opportunity to experience it and have been pleasantly surprised at the level of support available and the format and structure of programmes,” he said.