The team behind a North East training provider which went global have returned home to where it all started, after re-acquiring the business they sold over a decade ago.

Management systems and sustainability training provider iqms Learning has opened a new head office at the North East BIC after being re-acquired by its original founders, 20 years after it first moved to the Sunderland business park.

Established in 1992 to provide training, iqms Learning has evolved under different guises throughout the last 30 years, quickly growing to offer coaching, consultancy and audits before eventually being sold to an international certification body in 2013.

Fast-forward just over a decade and a decision by the company to withdraw from the UK market in 2020 has since resulted in five senior team members going full circle to bring the business back to the UK.

Seeking to turn adversity into opportunity, and with support from the BIC, managing director, Steve Nicholas and four of his colleagues established iqms Learning to transition back to an independent business and have returned to open a new head office at the BIC to accommodate their growing team.

This has not only marked the company’s return to the region but has also allowed it to create five full-time roles and numerous associate consultant positions, ensuring full continued service to its clients nationwide and providing jobs to some of those who were made redundant when the global business withdrew from the UK.

Managing director, Steve Nicholas, said: “The BIC has been instrumental in helping us get back to where we want to be – for the last 20 years the team have provided iqms with support and office spaces, and especially during our transition from multinational to independent, we couldn’t be more grateful.

“In 2020, we were virtual tenants who went from being part of a big company to becoming a start-up, and the BIC team has been there every step of the way and have continued to support us throughout the whole process. Everyone there really wants to see you succeed.”

Looking ahead, iqms Learning hopes its new North East HQ will help it reclaim its position as one of the region’s top management systems training providers, by helping the team re-establish local working relationships and tapping into the region’s ‘skilled talent pool of workers.’

“Before we were bought in 2013, we were a really well-embedded company within the North East and our acquisition saw our relationships dissolve, so with help from the BIC, we’re hopeful that we can regain our title and help the North East prosper,” Steve said.

Paul McEldon OBE, chief executive of the North East BIC, said: “It is fantastic to see the team at iqms Learning come back home to where it all began.

“This year marks the BIC’s 30th anniversary, and iqms was here with us at the very beginning, so I think it’s brilliant to see the founders still have the same appetite to come back, grow the business and continue creating opportunities for local people as they did back then. We’re proud to have been able to support them on their journey.”

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