Kidsunlimited testing the market waters

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One of the UK's largest nursery chains, Kidsunlimited, may be about to be put up for sale.

The company's majority shareholder is private equity company ISIS Equity Partners, who in 2001 bought into the business set up by Stewart and Jean Pickering.

They started Kidsunlimited in 1983. The group now owns 51 nurseries providing more than 4,700 childcare places and employing 1,600 staff.

Kidsunlimited's commercial director Jeremy Clark confirmed that Deloitte had been appointed to advise on strategic options.

Adam Holloway of ISIS told Nursery World that they were looking for an exit strategy after more than six years as an investor and were exploring a number of options.

If the firm is sold, ABC Learning Centres, owner of Busy Bees, is the most likely buyer among the large nursery groups.

The Australian nursery giant has made no secret of its desire to expand in the UK and last August acquired Leapfrog Day Nurseries, a division of Nord Anglia Education, to become the UK's largest chain in a deal worth £31.2m.

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