Growing nursery chain expands further with acquisition

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A Hull childcare entrepreneur has expanded her operation south of the Humber with the acquisition of a long-established day nursery in North Lincolnshire.

Angela Proctor, who operates three other nurseries in nearby Grimsby and a further seven childcare facilities in and around Hull, has taken over Southfield Nursery in Brigg in a transaction arranged by Abacus Day Nursery Sales, the specialist childcare division of Blacks Business Brokers.

The premises on St Clare’s Walk in Brigg has housed a day nursery for more 35 years, and was bought by its most recent owner, Christine Johnson, in 2004. The sale to Proctor has enabled Johnson to retire.

Since taking over the lease on the premises Proctor has fully refurbished the nursery and introduced a new “nurturing unit” to enable it to care for babies and toddlers.

The nursery’s opening hours have also been extended, and it now provides childcare from 7.45am to 6pm, year-round, plus a school holiday club for children aged up to eight.

Southfield Nursery has become part of Proctor’s Leap Ahead group of nurseries in North Lincolnshire, which also operates three childcare settings in Grimsby. It has been renamed Leap Ahead @ Southfield.

The nursery’s four existing members of staff, including childcare manager Kerrie Richardson, have remained with the nursery following its transition to new ownership.

Jaz Brodie from Leap Ahead @ Spring Villa in Grimsby, who has worked for the company for four years, has also been promoted to the position of deputy manager at Southfield.

Proctor has been a childcare practitioner since 1989 and bought her first nursery, in Hull, in 2007.

With the addition of Southfield she now owns a total of 11 nursery businesses, which are grouped into three different brands: BrightStart Nurseries and Aspiring Minds in Hull; and Leap Ahead Nurseries south of the Humber.

Leap Ahead intends to add a further two nurseries to its group in North Lincolnshire within the next two-to-three years.

BrightStart Day Nurseries is also expanding, and is currently in negotiations to buy another childcare setting north of the Humber.

Proctor said: “I look for opportunities to buy nurseries that require some investment but that are catering to a clear, existing market, and Southfield fitted these criteria well.

“Our strategy with Leap Ahead is to expand beyond Grimsby into the wider South Humber corridor, and our move into Brigg marks the first step on this journey.”

Joanne Booth, director of Abacus Day Nursery Sales, said: “We were pleased to be able to conclude this sale and so allow our client to retire while also providing continuity and, indeed, an extended childcare offering for parents.

“It has been great to see how quickly Leap Ahead Nurseries has invested in the premises and assimilated it into its wider group.

“The market for childcare businesses has been remarkably buoyant through the pandemic, and we have completed a number of similar deals since the summer.”

Grimsby-headquartered BG Solicitors provided Proctor with legal advice on the acquisition.