Busy Bees buys Australian nursery group

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Busy Bees is expanding into the Australian market by acquiring Foundation Early Learning, a group of 30 nurseries.

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One of Foundation Early Learning's 30 settings in Australia

The UK’s largest nursery group said the deal was expected to complete by 30 June.

Set up in 2008, Foundation Early Learning is a group of 30 private nurseries caring for around 3,500 children across Australia.

Busy Bees will acquire the company from its existing founder and private equity backed shareholders, including Australian-based Blue Sky Private Equity. The deal is subject to Australian Foreign Investor Review Board Approval.

Commenting on the acquisition, Simon Irons, group CEO of Busy Bees, said, ‘Over the last 35 years we have been dedicated to providing outstanding opportunities for children to give them the very best start in life. We see Australia as a perfect place to continue to realise this ambition. Foundation Early Learning has a strong management team with a vision and core values consistent with our own and committed to grow to enable more children the opportunity to have the best start in life. We are delighted to welcome the families, the staff and most of all the children into the Busy Bees family.’

foundation-early-learning-ceo-robert-hughesRobert Hughes, CEO of Foundation Early Learning, (right), said, ‘Foundation has been executing on a strategy to grow our portfolio and increase our foot print across Australia in the provision of quality early education and childcare. By becoming part of the Busy Bees family, Foundation will be able to continue to deliver on our strategy of providing quality early childhood education and care to benefit families and the broader communities to whom we provide our services. This will also open up further career and development opportunities for our staff.’

A Busy Bees spokesperson confirmed that Mr Hughes would be staying on as CEO.

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In the UK the nursery group operates around 350 settings, providing more than 30,000 childcare places.

In February, Busy Bees announced that it would be opening 32 nurseries in China over the next five years.

While the company was founded in Staffordshire in 1984 and continues to have its headquarters in the UK, it has been expanding rapidly into overseas markets in recent years.

In 2015 the chain acquired its first international nurseries, buying 60 settings in Singapore and Malaysia, from Knowledge Universe.

Last year, Busy Bees bought Treetops Nurseries , a UK group of 61 nurseries, and also acquired the 78 BrightPath nurseries, run by Canada’s only publicly-traded childcare chain.

Busy Bees now cares for over 50,000 children in around 500 nurseries in the UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada and China. It is majority-owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

In December, Busy Bees signed a new business partnership with Singapore-based company Temasek, in what was thought to be the biggest nursery investment deal of the year.

Temasek acquired a strategic minority stake in the UK’s largest nursery group from majority shareholder the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

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