Childbase employees' nursery takeover

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After 28 years, nursery group the Childbase Partnership has become an employee-owned business, after staff voted for the move.

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Childbase founder and chief executive Mike Thompson has handed the company's ownership over to its 1,600 employees

Founded by chief executive Mike Thompson in 1989, the group employs 1,600 people, and operates 41 nurseries mainly in the South of England, from the headquarters in Newport Pagnall, Buckinghamshire.

Childbase claims to be the tenth largest employee-owned company in the UK. Nursery staff voted to move from individual share ownership to a long-term Trust, which the company says will benefit the staff equally.

The majority of Childbase’s nurseries are Ofsted ‘Outstanding’. In the latest annual Nursery World Nursery Chains supplement, the group was ranked third in our Ofsted table, ranking the largest 20 nursery groups in England for quality.

Childbase has won numerous awards including Employee Owned Business of the Year 2016/17, and has been on the ‘Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for’ list for 11 years.

Formally handing over the company to employees, Mr Thompson told delegates at the group’s conference in Milton Keynes arena, ‘I have realised my dreams, now it is time for you to realise yours. The next chapter in our proud history starts today.

‘We must never forget all our colleagues who risked their own money and were prepared to wait for the rewards. They believed in their colleagues and what could be achieved; it is that kind of commitment and belief that will take us forward. Where we go now is in your hands.’

He praised external investors who had funded early expansion and all the employees who had saved to buy shares through a company scheme which offered ‘buy one get two free’ incentives.

All partners will receive an equal tax-free Partnership Dividend payment in November as part of the ‘Sharing our Success’ initiative at the company.

Fred Bowden, chairman of the newly formed Trust Board, which has independent and employee-elected directors, said, ‘Employee ownership sets the tone for how we want to do business; how we support each other and the contributions we make to the communities we serve. As Childbase partners have clearly demonstrated over many years, it is simply the right way to do business.’

Mr Bowden presented Mr Thompson with an engraved gift recognising his ‘generosity and the profound impact of his vision’.

The conference was themed around the children’s book character Elmer, the elephant which also ‘dared to be different’ and whose first adventures were published 28 years ago in 1989.

Staff took part in a live performance of the book and a parade of decorated craft elephants, produced by teams from each of the group’s nurseries and head office.

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