06 Apr 2018, Catherine Gaunt
The 12-strong group of nurseries, all in Hampshire, was started in 1997 by primary school teacher Jane Dyke.
While at teacher training college, her colleague and later business partner, Trevor Dyke, had suggested she keep a yellow dot on places such as her diary and dashboard where she could see it as a constant reminder of her dream to set up a nursery.
After eight years at Scantabout Primary School, in Chandlers Ford, where she was the Key Stage One Coordinator and developed their Early Years Unit, Ms Dyke opened her first setting Chandlers Ford Kindergarten in 1997 with a £15,000 loan. The group was built up gradually, with a mixture of new builds and conversions, and Yellow Dot opened its 12th nursery in Winchester last year.
In Nursery World’s Nursery Chains 2017 the group was listed as providing 791 childcare places, with more than 420 employees.
Bright Horizons is the second largest group in the UK. The deal will take the number of places offered by the group to more than 24,000.
Commenting on how she decided to sell, Jane Dyke (below) told Nursery World, ‘As I often say, “thoughts become things, choose the good ones!”
‘A few months ago, in one of our Induction workshop I was retelling our Yellow Dot story and sharing that I love to travel and do new things. I encouraged our new team members to think carefully about their future and perhaps to choose a coloured dot as I had done to remind them of their dreams and aspirations.
‘As I was saying this I mentally knew that my new dot would be a green dot, as I want to travel and see pastures green. Thoughts do become things and I started looking at places to visit, I already had a trip to South America booked in April but wanted to make a list, a “bucket list” of places to visit.
‘Yellow Dot has been a huge and important part of our lives and so have our team and families.
‘After much heartfelt consideration, we believe that Bright Horizons would be the best fit to take Yellow Dot into the future, maintaining our values, standards and Froebelian ways.’
Last year, Yellow Dot’s Froebelian approach featured in a Nursery World poster and practice series co-written with Professor Tina Bruce.
While Bright Horizons was ‘a much larger organisation with many different nursery groups making up its family’, Ms Dyke said it would be a place where there would be more opportunities for the staff team and families.
She added, ‘We have met with many, lovely Bright Horizons team members and visited some of their nursery settings, we do believe that we will be a cultural fit and that although our values may be expressed differently to theirs, in principle they are very similar.
‘Essentially nothing will change for our families. Our key people make the difference to our families, they are the people our families know and love, and will continue to inspire our children.
‘Change is difficult even good change - it would be silly to say that over time things won’t change at all but I hope that it will be good change and that our team and families will embrace and encourage the change and help Bright Horizons to learn the best from us and seek to learn the best from them, so that unity and community continue to flourish.’
Lydia Hopper, Bright Horizons general manager, said, ‘Bright Horizons has long admired Yellow Dot’s commitment to developing children's learning through play, following Froebelian principles. We are therefore delighted to be welcoming children, families and staff from Yellow Dot nurseries into our Bright Horizons family.
‘We believe that with Bright Horizons, each of the Yellow Dot nursery’s strengths will thrive. We will continue to provide a stimulating work environment and even more opportunities for career development for new colleagues. For Yellow Dot nursery families, daily nursery life will continue as usual and families will still enjoy the same strong relationships with their nursery manager and key person.’
Arun Kanwar, partner of Cairneagle Associates, a strategy consulting firm focused on the education space, which has advised on a number of recent nursery transactions, said, 'The acquisition of Yellow Dot is a good fit for Bright Horizons in terms of premium, performance and quality/ cultural fit.
'Along with other recent transactions in the marketplace, it illustrates continued appetite from buyers (both financial and trade) to invest in nursery groups in the UK and sellers’ ability to achieve value upon exit.'
The sale was handled by Christie & Co. Courteney Donaldson, managing director, childcare and education,said, 'In early February, we received multiple offers, over the asking price, from a wide variety of trade operators and investors alike, with deliverable offers being presented by both UK based and overseas parties. Due to the amount of pre-transaction works which were undertaken prior to the commencement of the sale, the period from the deal being agreed through completion took a mere seven weeks.'