Healthcare recruitment company buys social care specialist


Blue Group International Ltd, the recruitment company comprising Bluecare Social Care and Bluecare Medical, has been sold to HCL plc (formerly Healthcare Locums Plc), in a deal worth a maximum of £14 million.

Blue Group is one of the fastest growing recruitment companies in the UK, and specialises in the placement and management of qualified social workers and social care professionals within the public, private and voluntary care sectors. The business supplies over two-thirds of all local authorities and is recognized as a market leader in the social work recruitment sector.

Clearwater Corporate Finance advised the shareholders, including Gresham Private Equity, on the sale.

The business pioneered the use of free continuous professional development for locums from graduation through to senior professional and managerial status and this model has enabled it to build strong relationships with candidates through ‘career partnering’.

With over 7,000 contractors currently registered, around 90 per cent of them qualified, Bluecare Social Care is now the largest independent supplier of temporary qualified social workers in the UK. In the 12 months to June 2006 the business achieved turnover approaching £40 million.

HCL is one of the country’s largest specialist healthcare recruitment companies having listed on AIM in November last year. Based in Loughton, Essex, the company supplies doctors, social workers and allied healthcare professionals to both the NHS and private healthcare sector, although does not operate in the low-margin nursing recruitment market. Bluecare Social Care is the sixth acquisition the company has made in the past three years.

Marc Gillespie, partner with Clearwater Corporate Finance said: “Having launched its social work offering just six years ago, Blue Group has achieved a market-leading position in record time. The company is an excellent fit with HCL’s business and the acquisition will allow it to take Blue Group forward to the next phase of its development.”

Kate Bleasdale, chief executive of HCL said: “The acquisition of BG Holdings will transform our social work division and represents a significant step towards achieving our ideal business mix between our three core markets. We believe that the Qualified Social Work market has strong margins and excellent growth potential, which we intend to capitalise on.”