Busy Bees sold to Canadian pensions fund

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The Busy Bees group, Britain’s largest nursery chain, has been acquired by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

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Busy Bees has confirmed that its largest majority shareholder Knowledge Universe- the largest for-profit education and training company in the US, has sold its share to Teachers’ Private Capital, the investment arm of the Ontario Teachers’ Pensions Fund.

The Canadian pensions fund already owns UK-based Acorn Care and Education, a provider of foster care services and schools for children with learning disabilities.

Busy Bees currently operates 213 nurseries, providing 20,000 places for children aged between three months and five-years-old. The group employs 7,000 members of staff.

The nursery chain will continue to operate as normal, with no planned changes to the management team.

Nursery World reported in September that Busy Bees was in talks with Teachers’ Private Capital, who at the time were the preferred bidder over British private equity firm Lion Capital.

Jo Taylor, vice president of Teachers’ Private Capital said, ‘We invested in Busy Bees because it is the clear market leader in its field, with an iconic brand and talented, experienced team.  We hope that with our support Busy Bees will be able to make quality childcare more accessible internationally through organic growth and selective new acquisitions, while maintaining the current focus on quality and innovation.’

Marg Randles, co-founder and managing director of Busy Bees, said, ‘We are delighted to be working with Teachers’ as we feel there is a natural synergy between the two companies in terms of quality and integrity.  We share the same vision and ambition for the future and together we will strive to provide even more quality childcare for more families across the UK.  Our success at Busy Bees is due to our commitment to delivering a sustainable quality service for children and families, and the amazingly dedicated, hardworking staff teams within our nurseries. We have a very experienced senior management team, as well as a national support centre ,who are well-rehearsed in dealing with changes to ownership and we are excited by the opportunities our new partners will provide.

‘Our focus, as always, will be to support the staff within our nurseries to continue to deliver exceptional childcare and be proud of the amazing work they do with children every day.  At Busy Bees nurseries it’s very much business as usual.’

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