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Children 1st Day Nurseries has added to its 20-strong portfolio of nurseries by purchasing three more settings from a nursery owner believed be exiting the childcare market to run a restaurant.
Moors Farm Nursery in Hathern (opened in 2015 and rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in 2016), The Gables Nursery in Syston (rated ‘outstanding’ in 2013) and The Woodlands Nursery in Birstall (rated ‘good’ in 2014) were sold to Children 1st Day Nurseries in a deal struck in June.
Cost factors, such as increases in Living Wage and the 30 hours 'free' childcare rollout this September, have led to challenges for nursery owners with some opting to leave the sector. A survey by the Pre-School Learning Alliance reveals a quarter of providers say '30 hours' will mean they will close (as parents go elsewhere for free hours)- but some nursery businesses have seized on opportunities.
While the former owner of the three Leicestershire-based nurseries is quitting the sector, the sale has allowed Children 1st Day Nurseries to accelerate its expansion plans.
Margaret Mason, founder and chief executive of Children 1st Day Nurseries said: “We already have two nurseries in Leicester and therefore this purchase presented a perfect opportunity for us to grow our business in the county.”
On average, the group has opened a new nursery every 18 months since 1988, when its first setting opened in Long Eaton. The purchases mean the group owns 23 nurseries across the Midlands and South Yorkshire and has increased the number of nursery places it has from 1,970 to 2,208 - boasting 488 childcare places in Leicestershire alone.
With 70 per cent of the group’s 20 nurseries currently judged to be ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, the chief executive of the group says she is looking forward to sustaining the group’s high-quality provision in the three nurseries.
All current members of staff will continue to be employed by Children 1st Day Nurseries, bringing the total number of people employed by the group to 636.
Mrs Mason added: “I am aware of the wonderful work already ongoing at the nurseries and everyone at Children 1st is looking forward to enhancing this provision still further.”
The group plans significant investment into the newly-acquired settings' learning environments, outside areas and facilities, in line with major investment over the last four years in all of its nurseries.