OakNorth lends £8m to nurseries group for acquisition of several London and South East nurseries

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OakNorth – the bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs – has completed a debt finance deal worth £8m to ICP Nurseries Ltd. The OakNorth loan will be used to further support ICP Nurseries in acquiring leading nursery settings.

ICP nurseries is owned by the founder, Tracey Storey, and the private equity firm Innervation Capital Partners. Tracey has worked in senior positions within the children’s nursery sector for over twenty years. ICP Nurseries currently owns: Little Muffins in Chiswick, The Old Barn in Banstead, Childcare4U Marlow and Beaconsfield, and Little Monkeys in central Windsor and Windsor Park. In total ICP Nurseries looks after over 400 children, from 0 to 5 years of age. All of the nurseries are renowned for an extremely high level of childcare provision, and have been rated Good or Outstanding by OFSTED.

The UK nursery market is worth approximately £3.9bn a year, and has grown by an annual rate of 5 percent a year since 2008. The UK government – both incumbent and opposition parties – are publicly committed to maintaining and increasing childcare spend. Recent changes to government subsidies, from employer-led vouchers to individual tax breaks, should see an increase in the use of private childcare, especially amongst the self-employed and those whose employers do not support the current voucher system.

Commenting on the transaction, Tracey Storey, CEO of ICP Nurseries, said:

“ICP Nurseries was established to put together leading nursery businesses in London and the South East. Each of the nurseries we have acquired have a very strong reputation for the very best childcare provision in their local communities. We now have six nurseries in our portfolio and aim to selectively expand on this number over the coming years, acquiring well-located nurseries with strong OFSTED ratings, and passionate staff and management.

“The team at OakNorth took a very pragmatic and flexible approach – there was no box-ticking, no off-the-shelf solutions, and we genuinely got a loan structure that works for our business. They were also very proactive – morning, noon or night, they were available – a very professional and positive experience.”

Priya Chauhan, Debt Finance Director at OakNorth Bank, commented:

“ICP Nurseries has a proven track record of acquiring and integrating nursery businesses, and a well-defined strategy for growth. Tracey Storey has extensive experience of running nursery groups and a number of contacts in the industry. With increasing demand and over 1.4 million under-5 year olds in London and the South East, we have no doubt that ICP Nurseries will achieve its ambitious growth plans, and look forward to working with them in building a market-leading group.”