After Busy Bees announced last October it was to close its nursery in Cardiff Ocean Park, business owner and father of two Chris Baker decided to step in and save the setting.
He renegotiated the nursery’s lease, securing the future of the setting and the jobs of the existing team of staff.
Busy Bees’ last day of trading was 31 January before the nursery was taken over and re-registered with the Care Inspectorate by Mr Baker just days later under the new name of The Learning Tree.
Under Mr Baker’s ownership, the nursery, which now trades as a limited company, has increased its occupancy and nearly doubled its number of staff.
It has also just been awarded a capital grant to re-landscape the garden and in September will start offering wrap-around care.
Mr Baker told Nursery World, ‘My children had been at the nursery for nearly two years when we were told of the closure, so I knew first-hand how exceptional the staff were. I wanted to save the nursery, the jobs of staff and prevent parents having to find new provision for their children.
‘The nursery has served the local community and surrounding areas for more than 20 years. It would have been an awful shame for the nursery to close, particularly at a time when the Welsh Government are making such an investment into the childcare sector.’
He added, ‘What we have achieved in the past six months has been nothing short of incredible. We received tremendous support from parents, as well as local politicians, including Vaughan Gething AM, and councillors in saving the setting from closure.’
Busy Bees said it took the decision to close the nursery because the lease was due to expire at the end of December 2018 and had it been unable to increase the numbers of children attending the setting for some time.
A spokesperson for the nursery group stated, 'We explored ways for the nursery to continue, but given the numbers of children attending sadly we could find no workable way to provide affordable childcare for parents within the local community. As soon as the decision had been made we informed our staff and the parents of children at the nursery so that they might have as much time as possible to consider the situation and make alternative arrangements.
'Having shared our decision a potential new operator for the nursery came forward and expressed a desire to take on a new lease at the point our own lease ended, which offered the opportunity for the nursery to remain open. We were supportive of the proposal from the outset and extended our lease by a month to allow the new operator time to put all the necessary arrangements in place. We are pleased that we were able to play a part in ensuring continuity of nursery provision at Cardiff Ocean Park nursery.'