Chain buys nurseries at fitness centres

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Asquith Court announced last week that it has acquired a large number of the creches and nurseries owned by David Lloyd Leisure. The nursery group, the UK's second largest chain, has bought 41 of the nurseries and creches based at the health and fitness clubs' sites.

Asquith Court announced last week that it has acquired a large number of the creches and nurseries owned by David Lloyd Leisure.

The nursery group, the UK's second largest chain, has bought 41 of the nurseries and creches based at the health and fitness clubs' sites.

Asquith Court owns and manages 151 settings across the UK and has 6,106 childcare places.

The chain previously managed 45 nurseries and creches on behalf of the leisure group. Four of the nurseries and creches it manages will remain under the ownership of David Lloyd Leisure.

Asquith Nurseries' chief executive Phil Rhodes said, 'This allows us to make them much more a part of the family, with all the benefits that closer involvement can bring. We are totally committed to our nursery business and will now focus clearly and solely on it. We are taking our business forward and these moves are providing a solid base that will help us go from strength to strength in 2005.'

David Lloyd has an on-site creche at each of its health and fitness clubs where members can leave their children while using the facilities. In addition, it has a number of nurseries based at sites for use by non-members and employees.

Busy Bees also manages six David Lloyd nurseries and creches and two remain under David Lloyd ownership and management.

A spokesman for David Lloyd said that Asquith had bought the nursery business, but not 'the bricks and mortar'.

Asquith Court took over the management of 30 David Lloyd nurseries and creches when it bought the Gatehouse chain in June 1999.

Earlier this month Asquith sold its 19 independent schools to Cognita, the new education company chaired by former chief inspector of schools Chris Woodhead. Cognita owns 18 schools and is the largest independent schools business in the UK.

David Lloyd Leisure currently has 55 racquet, health and fitness clubs in the UK and Ireland and a membership of more than 320,000. It employs more than 4,500 staff, including 400 fitness instructors.

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