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Busy Bees swoops for Canadian childcare group in £87m deal

By Simon Penfold | Lichfield | Business | Published:

Busy Bees, the Staffordshire-based nursery group, has sealed an £87 million deal for a childcare group in Canada.

Busy Bees co-founder and managing director Marg Randles with her grandson Louis at her Burntwood nursery

It is the second international takeover by the Burntwood-headquartered group in the last two years

BrightPath is Canada’s leading private childcare provider, looking after 8,950 pre-school children across 78 early learning and childcare sites.

Busy Bees says the company is renowned for delivering the highest standards in curriculum, nutrition, communication and technology, and recreational programmes.

The Staffordshire group says, since its first overseas deal in 2015, buying 70 nurseries across Singapore and Malaysia and the Asian International College, its business development team has been looking 'intently' for opportunities to enter or expand in various parts of the world.

Busy Bees co-founder and managing director Marg Randles said: “BrightPath, like Busy Bees, is committed to providing families with the very best child development programmes and care its country has to offer. We are united in our vision and values and we are delighted to be working with such a talented team to share best practice across the waters."

She added: “Busy Bees is enjoying an amazing year with the addition of a number of quality nurseries, bringing the total to 482 nurseries across the UK, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia.

"Our ethos remains that we are an international network of local nurseries, and our purpose is to continue to create better outcomes for each and every child.

“We really appreciate the hard work everyone has put in to bring this partnership and others to fruition. We are looking forward to working closely with Mary Ann, CEO BrightPath, and the team in Canada to share ideas and deliver exciting and innovative activities to more children in all our markets.”

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Mary Ann Curran, of BrightPath, said: "Since the company began seven years ago, BrightPath has developed into Canada’s leader in early learning and child care. The company has more than 8,950 licensed child care spaces in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. We are also proud of the unique opportunity we provide for more than 2,130 passionate caregivers and other staff to pursue a progressive career path.

"As part of the Busy Bees family, BrightPath will continue to raise the bar on quality and, with a passion for the care of children, we look forward to continuing to expand and fill the need for high quality early learning and child care."

Busy Bees was launched in 1983 after its founders, Lynn and John Woodward, Margaret and Peter Randles and Sally and David Thackray, were frustrated with the lack of suitable childcare for their own children.

The Rocklands Nursery in Lichfield opened in 1984. Busy Bees now owns 335 nurseries (and two children centres and an independent primary school) across the UK, 56 in Singapore, and 14 in Malaysia.

Two of the founding directors, group chief executive John Woodward and managing director Margaret Randles, along with Simon Irons, who has been instrumental in the growth of the business since his appointment in 2001, are still involved in the day-to-day running of Busy Bees and are based at Busy Bees National Support Centre at Burntwood.

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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