Educational Legal Team at Setfords advises on a strategic sale to Busy Bees

A specialist educational legal team at Setfords led by Helen Wong MBE, PCGE has completed a strategically important sale of three ‘Outstanding’ nurseries in Hampshire to the largest nursery group, Busy Bees.

The Egg Day Nursery business is a well-established, profitable day nursery group, which is renowned for providing high-quality childcare for up to 181 children across the three settings; one in Picket Twenty, Andover, one in Sutton Scotney, Winchester, and Magic Tower Montessori in Weyhill.

The group was founded in 2010 by Anthony and Briony White. Briony was on maternity leave from her teaching role when they both noticed a lack of ‘Outstanding’ nursery provision nearby. It was then that they decided to combine their expertise and open their first setting in Sutton Scotney, which was hugely successful and achieved its first ‘Outstanding’ rating in 2014. The pair subsequently opened the other two settings, with Magic Tower achieving an ‘Outstanding’ in March of this year.

Briony and Anthony recently decided to sell the Egg Day Nursery group to allow them to pursue new ventures. The transaction required a de-merger prior to the transactional sale and also planning advice. Following a confidential sales process with Christie & Co, the business has been sold to the UK’s largest nursery group, Busy Bees, which now has 386 nurseries across UK and Ireland, caring for more than 40,000 children. Globally, the group has a presence in eight countries, caring for more than 75,000 children.

Anthony and Briony said ‘We chose Helen Wong MBE of Setfords Solicitors because of her expertise in the day nursery sector. Her experience in demergers, share sales and nursery related due diligence has been invaluable in our sale process. Helen was efficient, available at all hours, great at problem solving and project managing the process as well as negotiating the transaction on our behalf. She was also very pleasant to deal with and made the whole process less daunting keeping us updated every step of the way. We wish to thank Helen and her team (Amanda Forsey paralegal, Jonathan Senior – Property and Ifath Nawaz – Planning) for their kind assistance in the sale process. We would have no hesitation in recommending Helen Wong MBE who is one of the best lawyers we have worked with.’

Commenting on the sale, Anthony and Briony, “It has been an absolute pleasure to have provided childcare and early years education to all our children and families and to have worked with countless dedicated, professional, and caring colleagues during the past 12 years from when Sutton Scotney was established. We are confident that our children and our staff team will be in excellent hands with Busy Bees and that the nurseries will go from strength to strength with the depth of expertise and experience they have. We wish everyone all the very the best for the future.”

Cheryl Creaser, Europe chief executive at Busy Bees, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Egg Day Nurseries to our growing family. The owners have created three beautiful nurseries that offer wonderful learning environments for children, and we are committed to preserving their vision going forward. We’re looking forward to working with the team to ensure we can continue providing children with the best start in life.”

Sophie Willcox, director – Childcare & Education at Christie & Co, who handled the sale, added: “Through a very competitive process we were inundated with market-setting offers from multiple well-funded parties, which really highlights the quality of their group and the demand from buyers for quality nurseries in the south. They have both been a genuine pleasure to work for and I wish them all the best for the future. I would also like to thank Helen Wong and her team at Setfords Solicitors for their integral role in getting this to completion. As always, it is a pleasure to work with such a knowledgeable and efficient team.”

The three Egg Day Nursery settings were sold for an undisclosed price.

Helen Wong said “the day nursery market in the UK is experiencing an unprecedented level of deal activity with owners choosing to put their business up for sale post covid-19. Deals have included the sale of nursery groups, as well as single-site operators and the demand is strong with bidding wars between buyers on numerous transactions. With economic uncertainty, spiralling utility costs, staff shortages and the nervousness of a recession on the horizon the number of seller mandates seems to be on the increase. We would be pleased to assist any other nursery operators who are looking to exit as we are approached daily by all the big groups who have appetite to buy more day nurseries and continue their rapid expansion plans.”

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