Busy Bees buys first Irish nursery group

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The UK’s biggest nursery group has acquired Giraffe Childcare, one of Ireland’s largest.

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Giraffe Childcare Liffey Valley in Dublin, one of 21 nurseries in the nursery group acquired by Busy Bees

Busy Bees has acquired 100 per cent of the Irish group’s 21 nurseries in the Greater Dublin area from Giraffe’s existing shareholders.

Founded in 2001, Giraffe Childcare provides nursery places, as well as after-school care for 2,000 children up to the age of 12.

Set up in 1983 in Staffordshire, Busy Bees has long been the UK’s largest nursery group and has expanded internationally in recent years into countries including Singapore, Canada and Australia.

Last year, Busy Bees expanded into the Australian market by acquiring Foundation Early Learning, a group of 30 nurseries, and also announced that it would be opening 32 nurseries in China over the next five years.

Simon Irons, group chief executive officer of Busy Bees, said, ‘For more than 35 years, we have been dedicated to providing outstanding care to children in local communities across the UK.

‘Ireland is a key part of our vision to provide children, wherever they are in the world, with the best start in life and we are delighted to welcome Giraffe to the Busy Bees family. 

‘Before making this step into Ireland, we took a measured approach to ensure we found a childcare provider that holds the same vision and core values as ourselves. We feel the team at Giraffe demonstrates these and we welcome its children, families and staff as we look to build on its great success and provide quality care and support.’

The deal means that the Busy Bees now operates 375 nurseries in the UK and Ireland, providing childcare for more than 35,000 children.

Simon Dowling, outgoing managing director of Giraffe Childcare, said, ‘We gave a great deal of time and consideration to what the next stage of development for Giraffe Childcare should be, in the best interests of all the children and families that we support as well as our dedicated staff.

‘Busy Bees has an excellent reputation and is synonymous with quality care. They are sector leaders and I am confident that in Busy Bees we have chosen the ideal partner to continue the Giraffe ethos. We believe it has the right team, provision and experience in place to continue the success of our nurseries and provide all the children in our care with outstanding support for their development.’

He added that both the management teams at Giraffe and Busy Bees would be working closely together ‘to ensure a seamless and efficient transition’.

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