Higgs & Sons advise on significant nursery acquisition

23rd November 2020

Higgs & Sons advise on significant nursery acquisition

Leading law firm Higgs & Sons has advised The Old Station Nursery (OSN) on its latest multi-site acquisition within the UK childcare sector.

West Midlands-based Higgs & Sons played an instrumental role in the further expansion of The OSN with the acquisition of a further 11 first-class nurseries in the South East.

The nurseries have been acquired from Sunhill Daycare (Europe) Nursery Group, which was established in 1991 and offers care for children aged 0-5 years in nurseries located across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, London and Suffolk.

Higgs & Sons has acted on all OSN’s acquisitions, having previously assisted last year when French-based La Maison Bleue (LMB) made its first move into the UK market with its purchase of OSN. It has seen the group become a leading UK childcare provider with 30 sites across the UK.

The multi-million-pound deal to bring the Sunhill Daycare nurseries into the OSN portfolio was made more challenging by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown closure of nurseries.

Geoff Kettle, Business Services Partner at Higgs & Sons and project lead, said: “We are delighted to have again successfully acted on behalf of LBM and OSN.

“This is a significant acquisition which sees 11 respected nurseries joining a growing and ambitious group.

“It has been a complex project that has not been without its difficulties due to external factors brought about by Covid-19. When we started on this journey, no-one could have predicted that the nurseries would be forced to close and that the transaction would have to be done completely remotely.

“I’m really pleased that the team has pulled together to ensure these challenges were met seamlessly.”

Geoff was assisted on the acquisition by Emily Parkes (Solicitor) Craig Thomas (Associate) working on corporate tax and pensions, Joanne Walker (Associate) advising on employment and Jennifer Hicks-Jones (Associate) offering expertise on commercial property matters.

Susheel Gupta (Relationship Manager for LMB and OSN) said “It is great to see The Old Station Nursery Group continue to grow across the UK. We know they have ambitious plans to continue to expand and look forward to continuing to provide the full spectrum of legal and strategic support.”

Sarah Steel, Managing Director of The Old Station Nursery Group, said: “We are really pleased to welcome each of the nurseries within the Sunhill Group into The Old Station Nursery family. We are very excited to welcome all children, parents and staff members into our very special community.

“The whole team at Higgs have offered us excellent and continued support during what has been a difficult period within the sector. Their advice and guidance throughout has been and continues to be invaluable.”

Fatima Essoufi, Head of M&A for LMB noted: “We are extremely happy to welcome Sunhill Daycare Nurseries in The Old Station Nursery and La Maison Bleue. This is a step further in our growth strategy in the UK, a strategic country for us in terms of acquisitions.

“Higgs & Sons team’s implication was paramount in leading this deal to a successful completion, albeit in a more complex environment due to Covid implications. The team was extremely helpful in assisting us with all aspects of this transaction and navigating through the challenges we’ve faced. Their advice has always been and continues to be of a great value to us and we certainly see in Higgs & Sons a true partner in the UK.”

LMB is one of the three largest businesses in the French childcare sector, the leader in Switzerland and the second largest in Luxembourg.

The purchase of Sunhill Daycare nurseries, for an undisclosed sum, is the next step in the group’s ambitious growth plans as it strives to become a significant market player in the UK.

Higgs & Sons can offer advice on anything from day-to-day legal issues to the buying, selling or restructuring of a business.

With years of experience and a strength in depth across all business areas, the firm’s business services department incorporates specialist teams focussing on corporate, commercial, tax and business wealth preservation, insolvency and business recovery and company secretarial services.


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