Bristol advisers help fast-growing nursery group achieve £8m finance package

December 1, 2017
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A team of Bristol advisers has helped Cornish nursery group Happy Days secure £8m funding to develop up to 10 new nurseries over the next three years.

Accountancy firms Smith & Williamson and BDO and law firm Foot Anstey advised on the deal with the funding coming from Santander Corporate & Commercial in Bristol. 

Happy Days was founded in 1993 by Robin and Sarah Karkeek and has expanded to become the 19th largest nursery chain in the UK following a management buyout in 2012 backed by private equity firm Livingbridge.

The investment from Livingbridge allowed Happy Days to open five more sites in the past three years in Exeter, Bristol and Poole, and relocate its Derriford NHS nursery in Plymouth.

Happy Days, which now owns 18 nurseries offering 1,318 places, is ranked fourth in the Nursery Chains Ofsted grades league table published this week, with 11 outstanding settings, five good and two yet to be inspected.

Smith & Williamson partner David Roper, pictured, said: “We are delighted to have worked closely with Happy Days for many years and this funding now supports the group’s ambitious growth plans across the South West and to maintain their delivery of high quality childcare, across the region.” 

The owners of Happy Days now plan to open three new, purpose-built nurseries, each with around 80 places, in 2018, with seven more to follow by 2020.

Jackie Arthur, managing director of Happy Days Nurseries, said: “This is a really exciting investment from Santander. They have worked with the business and management team in providing an appropriate funding solution for our development plans, and their experience together with the professional relationship the team has developed with Happy Days over the last few years meant that we were very keen to work together. 

“We believe that with this investment, and support from Santander, we are well placed to achieve our growth ambitions.”

Santander growth capital director Peter Abel added: “As an established care provider, with excellent governance and performance record, now is the appropriate time for our growth capital product to support the business with its further roll-out plans into new geographic areas.

“This is a quality business with a very experienced management team and we expect it to continue its growth over the coming years.”

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