Meanwhile, Grandir (Les Petits Chaperons Rouge) has bought the five-strong Futurepath group in Hampshire, and MiChild has acquired Network Nurseries’ five north-west nurseries.
Backed by private investor Jonathan Jay, Welcome has bought Little Footprints in Swinton, Greater Manchester, a 92-place setting which closed last August. This adds to three Daisy Chain nurseries in the north west, and two Cheeky Monkeys nurseries in Essex.
Mr Jay said that the growth of the nursery group was all privately-funded. He sold a group of businesses three years ago, and became interested in the nursery market as he has a young daughter.
As managing director of Welcome, Mr Jay is handling acquisitions, finding nursery owners who want to retire or exit the sector because they have become frustrated. ‘The current crisis has accelerated the process for people thinking of leaving the sector,’ he said.
Welcome is keeping existing branding where it buys currently open nurseries with a good reputation, but rebranding where it buys nurseries that have closed down.
The operations side of Welcome is being run by Linda Mills, formerly of Asquith and her own group, as head of childcare, and Sarah Blythe, formerly of Chestnut Nursery Schools.
Mr Jay said that the pipeline of acquisitions planned by the group would mean it had around 23 settings by the end of the year.
Grandir, which owns French operator Les Petits Chaperons Rouges, has further expanded in the UK with the purchase of Futurepath Childcare, which has five nurseries offering 375 places in Hampshire. It bought Kiddi Caru in September 2017 and Head Start in November 2018.
Growing Manchester group MiChild has bought five Network Nurseries settings in the local area. Network has a total of 287 places in its settings in Greater Manchester and Cheshire.