Childcare group announces acquisition and change of leadership

Footprints Day Nursery

A Manchester childcare group has announced an acquisition, and a new chief executive.

Just Childcare – which currently operates 63 nurseries in the North West, Yorkshire and the South West – has added the Footprints Day Nursery in Atherton, Greater Manchester, to its portfolio, for an undisclosed sum.

The latest acquisition is the group’s first of 2022 and sees it increase the total number of child places available across its nurseries to more than 5,000.

Located in an old Victorian school building in the centre of Atherton, Footprints was founded in 2010 and in the past 12 years has grown into one of the area’s most popular settings.

Liz Carroll, operation director at Just Childcare, said: “Atherton is an area we know well and we are confident the addition of Footprints will complement the success of our existing Little Acorns and Storytimes settings in the area.

“Footprints have an excellent local reputation and we look forward to working alongside their existing teams to develop their setting further.”

Meanwhile, Just ChildCare founders, David and Jacqueline Johnson, have stepped down from the board and Samantha Rhodes has been appointed as new CEO of the organisation.

Founded by the husband and wife duo back in 2004, Just Childcare saw impressive development under their leadership as the organisation grew to become one of the UK’s largest nursery groups before its subsequent purchase by Partou, The largest childcare provider in the Netherlands, in June 2021.

The changes will see David relinquish his role as chief executive to pursue other business interests alongside his love of travelling, while Jacqueline will continue to work with the group and the broader Partou Group in a nursery concept consultant role.

Samantha Rhodes joins the company from Mitchells & Butlers and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience gained in multi-site operations within the retail and hospitality industry and the health and wellbeing sector.

She said: “I am thrilled to join the Just Childcare Group at such an exciting time in their evolution.

“The journey that Jacqueline and David have taken the company on has been extraordinary and I now look forward to working alongside our amazing nursery teams and my colleagues within our nursery support centre and Partou to develop the organisation further.”