Setfords advises on acquisition by Kids Planet as nursery sales spiral
The day nursery market is 'experiencing an unprecedented level of deal activity'
Setfords’ specialist educational legal team led by Helen Wong MBE PCGE has completed a strategically important sale of four nurseries in Merseyside to fast-growing nursery group, Kids Planet.
Waverton Day Nurseries is an independent, family-owned group of private nurseries located in Merseyside. The nurseries were set up in 2013 by mother and daughter team, Tracey Jenkins and Cheryl Taylor. Its most prestigious nursery is located at Knowsley Safari Park, with others in Wavertree, Whiston and Kirby.
The sellers asked Sarah Ellison of Redwoods Dowling Kerr (RDK) to represent them. They secured multiple bids and the sellers chose Kids Planet as they liked the ethos of daughter father duo, Clare Roberts OBE and John Hoban. As well as running a large nursery group, Roberts sits on policy forums with DFE, Ofsted, and the NDNA, and attends APPG meetings in Westminster to discuss the support the childcare sector needs.
Jenkins said: “[T]he time was right for myself and family to begin a new chapter and a much needed chance to pause and reflect on all I have achieved. RDK supported myself in identifying a buyer that had similar family values and qualities as my own nurseries and I felt that Kids Planet had a synergy that I could identify with.”
Jenkins chose Setfords and Wong to support the business with its sale, given Wong’s track record in the educational world. The Setfords educational deal team comprised Wong, Jonathan Senior, Amanda Forsey, Madelaine Rugg and wider members of the team.
Commenting on the support Wong provided, Jenkins said: “She has unparalleled expertise in the most complicated of situations and has helped us deal with every single issue until resolved to help us sell our nursery”.
She added: “Helen is pro-active, she is technically brilliant yet very approachable, helps to explain the issues at hand. I was extremely touched that Helen got me the best deal I could have wished for – she was even thinking about the grandchildren – that’s the level of detail!".
She also thanked Senior for property support. “He has been tenacious and an enormous help. I could not have sold this business without their help. They are really the best lawyers I have come across and if you are selling your nursery you must use Helen Wong.”
Wong said: “There were a lot of complicated legal situations to untangle but we got there in the end. Running a business is sometimes so busy that the preparation to sell one’s business gets overlooked. What we had to assist with in Tracey’s instance was not just the sale but the pre-steps to prepare for sale, securing landlord’s consent, dealing with historic issues in respect of the property, so that the business was ready for sale”.
She thanked the family for their commitment to the due diligence process, which she described as “extremely document intensive” on top of the “emotional rollercoaster” felt by sellers.
Wong noted the day nursery market in the UK is “experiencing an unprecedented level of deal activity” with many owners choosing to sell post-pandemic. “Deals have included the sale of nursery groups, as well as single-site operators and the demand is strong with bidding wars between buyers on numerous transactions. With economic uncertainty, spiralling utility costs, staff shortages and the nervousness of a recession on the horizon the number of seller mandates seems to be on the increase”.