Nursery expansion continues despite Covid crisis

Annette Rawstrone
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Nursery groups are continuing to rapidly expand despite the pandemic, with latest deals including MiChild Group purchasing a chain of five nurseries in Blackpool, Lancashire.

One of the Childs-Play nurseries acquired by Manchester-based group MiChild, which now owns 18 settings
One of the Childs-Play nurseries acquired by Manchester-based group MiChild, which now owns 18 settings

The sale of Childs-Play, which had an asking price of £5.5 million, was agreed during lockdown. The acquisition continues the growth of the North West chain which now has 18 nurseries and offers more than 1,000 childcare places.

It acquired Network Nurseries, a group of five settings across Greater Manchester and Cheshire in April. Then in August the group purchased Domalo Childcare which has four nurseries in Oldham and Stockport. All of the sales have been brokered by Redwood Dowling Kerr (RDK).

Its latest acquisition, Childs-Play, was established in 2001 by Sarah and David Sloane. They opened Little Angels Day Nursery which steadily expanded to five freehold settings along the Fylde coast in Lancashire.

RDK recognised the growth potential of the group and contacted MiChild when approached by the owners. Senior childcare negotiator at RDK Sarah Ellison said, ‘Once Childs-Play came to Redwoods Dowling Kerr I knew that MiChild would be a perfect match for the business. We contacted the buyer and they thought it was an excellent opportunity to expand the Group.

‘The nursery is a market-leading business that would attract significant interest from multiple buyers, so keeping the sale process confidential would have been extremely difficult, but we met the demands of the owners.

‘We have secured a fantastic deal for our clients and an excellent acquisition for the buyer; I am delighted for all parties.’

Meanwhile, Welcome Nurseries, backed by private investor Jonathan Jay, also has ambitious growth plans. It opened its first nursery in June 2019 and now has 13 nurseries, having recently acquired two more settings in Cheshire and Derbyshire. There are plans to complete on ‘several’ other nurseries before Christmas.  

The recent purchases are Stepping Stones in Alfreton, Derbyshire, which has 91 childcare places and Lilliput Farm in Cheshire, which has 176 places, bringing the group’s total to 1339 places.

Linda Cuddy, head of childcare and education at Welcome Nurseries said, ‘We are incredibly excited about these nurseries. They both have huge potential and we look forward to working with the staff and managers to develop these settings to become the excellent centres of childcare.’  

Ajay and Rita Rupal own a number of nurseries in the West Midlands and have recently acquired Nelly’s Day Nursery in Staffordshire to add to their growing portfolio, with five nurseries previously bought through RDK.

The nursery, rated Outstanding by Oftsed, is registered for 46 children and is situated close to the M6 motorway.

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