Busy Bees, the UK’s biggest chain of day nurseries, is up for sale. The company’s owner, Knowledge Universe, has requested Rothschild, the investment bank, to find a buyer. The nursery chain which is made up 214 nurseries is expected to fetch more than £200m, including debt.
Busy Bees was set up in 1983 by John and Lynn Woodward with their friends Margaret Randles and David Thackray. Both couples sold their houses to buy their first nursery.
The growth of the Busy Bees nursery chain, has been mainly acquisition-led with its most recent acquisition being Just Learning’s 71 nurseries in August last year.
A spokesman for Busy Bees said: “We are aware of the current speculation around changes in ownership of Busy Bees nurseries. During our 30 year history we have worked with a number of different partners and investors and this has enabled us to grow and develop a successful business.
“We understand that this makes us highly attractive to potential investors and although we are delighted with the support and investment we have received under the ownership of Knowledge Universe Education we are confident that if a change in ownership were to take place this would provide more opportunities for us in the future.”
He added: “We believe our success at Busy Bees is due to our commitment to delivering a sustainable quality service for children and families, and the amazing staff teams within our nurseries. We have a very experienced senior management team and national support centre who are well-rehearsed in dealing with changes should there be a change in the balance of ownership. Our focus as always will be to support the staff within our nurseries to deliver exceptional care and continue to be proud of the amazing work they do with children every day.”
John Woodward also runs Busy Bees Benefits, which is a provider of childcare vouchers, and this is not part of the sale.