Busy Bees expanding in China

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The UK’s largest childcare provider Busy Bees is to open 32 nurseries in China over the next five years.


Busy Bees' Harbin setting in North-East China opened last September

The nursery group, which already has a 200-place setting in the country, will open a further five settings in China this year, followed by another 27 by 2023, in partnership with its Chinese stakeholder - Oriental Cambridge Education Group (OCEG).

The ‘international pre-schools’ will be based in locations including Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Xiamen. The setting in Shanghai will provide 230 places for children from three months to six years old.

The deal is expected to generate almost £75 million over five years in projected income for Busy Bees and OCEG.

Following the launch of Busy Bees’ first nursery in the city of Harbin, North-East China (pictured above and below), in September last year, the nursery group’s co-founder and president John Woodward was invited by the Department of International Trade (DIT) to the Prime Minister’s first trade mission to China, also attended by delegates from 49 other British businesses and commercial organisations. During the trip last week, Theresa May announced an expansion of education programmes with China, highlighting Busy Bees’ success in the country.


John Woodward said, ‘I feel immensely proud and delighted that Busy Bees has been complimented for its success in China. Last week’s visit afforded many opportunities for us to discuss our experiences and plans with international leaders and UK businesses looking to expand in this part of the world.

‘Better outcomes for young children is at the heart of all we do, whether those children are in my home town in the UK or overseas, we’re completely committed to our mission.

‘We opened our first nursery in 1984, due to our demand for quality care and education for our children. Since then we’ve developed a national network of 344 local nurseries in the UK. In 2015 we saw an opportunity to expand internationally and we now have 73 nurseries in South East Asia. Due to its success we’ve been looking to expand in key markets across the globe.

‘On the international stage, British education is perceived as one of the best. With rising demand for quality early years provision across the globe, and with our learnings from the UK and South East Asia, we have developed a ground-breaking offering in care and education for children aged from three months to six years that blends British care and teaching methods with traditional care in China, to provide a better start in life for every child in our care.

‘Ultimately, the key to our success to date in the UK, South East Asia and Canada, is having the best teachers in our team; professional, dedicated people who are devoted to providing exceptional educational opportunities and delivering the best outcomes for our pre-school children.’

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