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Hull childcare entrepreneur expands nursery chain with North Lincolnshire acquisition

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 Mrs Proctor has enabled Mrs Johnson to retire.

Southfield Nursery was rated “Good” at its most recent Ofsted inspection. Until its acquisition by Mrs Proctor it catered to children aged two and above and was open between 8.00am and 4.00pm, term-time only.

Since taking over the lease on the premises Mrs 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 6.00pm, year-round, plus a school holiday club for children aged up to eight.

Southfield Nursery has become part of Mrs 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.

Mrs 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.

Mrs 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. We have found, in particular, that established and growing childcare chains are looking at the current situation as an opportunity to expand and establish themselves firmly for the decade ahead.”

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

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