Just Childcare chain hits the South

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Nursery group Just Childcare has secured £12m in investment to expand to the South of England.


Abbeywood Tots' outstanding nursery in Stoke Gifford, Bristol. The group's five nurseries have been bought by Just Childcare

The funding comes from Allied Irish Bank and Phoenix Equity Partners, both of which have invested in the group’s previous run of expansion.

The latest acquisition, of five-strong Abbeywood Tots in Bristol, is a departure for the group, which has previously focused its operations in the North West and Yorkshire.

The latest deal means that the nursery group now operates 38 nurseries, offering a combined total if 2,752 settings. The nursery group was the 11th largest in the UK in Nursery Chains 2017.

All of the group’s nurseries are graded ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

The former owners of Abbeywood Tots, which was set up in 1998, are Amanda and Ian Fry and Mike and Lisa Williams. The nurseries are based in the city centre, Stoke Gifford, Knowle, Filton, and Stockwood.

David Johnson, director at Just Childcare said, ‘Having built our reputation for providing a supportive, nurturing and inspiring service to thousands of families in the North, we are now looking forward to offering the very same to families living in the South. 

‘The substantial investment we have received from Allied Irish Bank and Phoenix Equity Partners has enabled us to realise our vision of extending our reach across the country, and we are absolutely thrilled to welcome the Abbeywood Tots children, parents and staff to our family. 

‘[Co-founder] Jacqueline and I have previous experience of working with nurseries in Bristol, and are very much looking forward to returning to this wonderful community and working with our new colleagues.’


David and Jacqueline Johnson of Just Childcare

Christie & Co, which handled the sale, said Abbeywood Tots' business had gone from strength to strength with growing income and occupancy levels.

Nick Brown, head of Brokerage for Childcare, said, ‘The successful timing of the sale of this established group resulted in a highly competitive process with numerous interested and well-funded parties.

‘Bristol has become an area where activity for high quality childcare settings has continued to grow, as further demonstrated by this sale.’

Just Childcare was set up in 2004 by David and Jacqueline Johnson, who previously held various roles in the education sector.

The group has grown rapidly in the past three years from seven settings in 2014 to the current 38.

The group has also developed its central support function in Manchester, with teams specialising in operations, safeguarding and quality support, HR and finance. It said the teams are dedicated to making sure Just Childcare’s childcare practitioners have everything they need to provide a high-quality service to local families.

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