Jobs saved as five East Midlands nurseries sold in pre-pack deal

Five East Midlands nurseries have been sold as part of a pre-pack deal after one of the UK’s largest operators slipped into administration.

Welcome Nurseries, which ran 32 sites across the country, was hit by “an extensive period of disruption and uncertainty” caused by the global pandemic.

This left the business unable to meet its ongoing operating costs and repay the deferred consideration owed following acquisitions it had completed pre-pandemic.

On 8 August, Asher Miller from Begbies Traynor and Paul Weber of Leigh Adams Ltd. were appointed as joint administrators of the Bury-headquartered company.

The pair worked quickly to complete the sale of 26 nurseries to the Harp Group, a new venture established by entrepreneur Simon Fox, saving the jobs of over 300 staff.

Nurseries in Alfreton, Enderby, Leicester, New Ollerton and Wellingborough have all been rescued as part of the deal.

However, despite this positive outcome, Harp Group was unable to purchase the remaining six nurseries in Welcome’s portfolio, which included a site on Crow Hill Drive in Mansfield.

Welcome Nurseries says that, where possible, it will support families seeking alternative arrangements for the children affected.

Joint administrator Asher Miller said: “I am so pleased to have been able to secure a quick and positive outcome for the majority of the staff and children at Welcome Nurseries. Simon is an experienced business operator and is passionate about education and I have no doubt that the 26 nurseries acquired by the Harp Group will continue to flourish and to provide first-rate education to their many children.”

Simon Fox, director of Harp Group, added: “I am delighted to have been able to take this opportunity to acquire Welcome Nurseries. We are excited about investing in putting Welcome back on a sound financial footing and re-establishing it as one of the foremost nursery groups in the UK, building on the hard work and experience of [Welcome Nurseries’ founder] Linda Cuddy and her team.”

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