Nursery group swoops for rival business

Clare Roberts and Jennie Johnson

Nursery group Kids Planet has acquired North West-based Kids Allowed in a deal which makes it the UK’s third biggest group.

Cheshire based Kids Planet now has 52 nurseries across the North West and Midlands and provides care to nearly 6,000 children.

The business was founded in 2008 by chief executive Clare Roberts and her father John, who is now chair.

Clare’s sister, Lucy Kaczmarska joined as Childcare Director in 2013.

Kids Planet received £10m initial investment from the British Growth Fund, the UK and Ireland’s most active investor in growing businesses, in 2016 when it had 17 nurseries.

Kids Planet has trebled its footprint since partnering with BGF. This is the business’ third follow-on investment which will support ambitious plans for future growth.

Alongside significant growth, the group now runs its own training academy delivering qualifications from apprenticeships to master’s degrees to enable the team to achieve the outstanding standard of childcare which has become the business’ hallmark.

Recognised as a trailblazer in the sector, Kids Allowed was established in 2003 by Jennie Johnson MBE and has grown to eight nurseries through its focus on high quality childcare and strength of the Kids Allowed brand. The group has five Ofsted Outstanding ratings and have two nurseries awaiting inspection.

Clare Roberts said: “We’ve made a number of acquisitions in recent years. This deal is particularly significant as it brings together two of the most successful nursery groups in the UK, making us the best childcare group for quality, based on Ofsted grades and other industry accolades, including 2019 Nursery World Group of the Year and Nursery Management Group of the Year.

“Kids Allowed is a business we’ve long-admired for its approach and commitment to high-quality care. Both companies were started by working mums when we were faced with the challenge of finding flexible and excellent childcare for our own children.

“We both felt there was an opportunity to improve standards and options in the market. There are so many synergies which has made this acquisition feel like a natural move and we look forward to future success.”

Jennie Johnson said: “In making the decision to part with Kids Allowed, it was of the utmost importance to me to find a company and leader that would continue the Kids Allowed legacy of care, passion and excellence with regard to both the experience provided for the children and families in our care and equally for our colleagues.

“I have known Clare and Kids Planet for many years and know that the coming together of arguably the two best childcare groups in the country will create something even more special than the sum of its parts. I’m excited to see this new force in childcare take shape whilst bringing highest quality childcare to even more families in the region and beyond.”

The transaction was jointly funded by Barclays and Clydesdale Yorkshire Bank. as well as further follow-on investment from BGF. This takes BGF’s total investment to £26m.

Advisors were Pinsent Masons, Hill Dickinson, Royce Peeling Green and Grant Thornton. The deal was brokered by Christie and Co.

Kids Planet is a family-owned group of 44 nurseries covering the North West and the Midlands.

Established by working mum Clare Roberts and her father John Hoban in 2008, Kids Planet has grown over the last decade to become a leading early years provider in the North West and is now covering the Midlands.

Kids Allowed is a family-owned group of eight nurseries covering the Greater Manchester and Cheshire

Established by working mum Jennie Johnson in 2003, Kids Allowed currently holds top position on the Nursery World league table for quality based on Ofsted reports and current holder of Nursery World Nursery Group of the year.

Kids Allowed have eight nursery settings and are responsible for the care and education of circa 2000 children.

Click here for a comprehensive list of West Midlands deals >