One of the UK’s largest family-owned and managed nursery groups will be able to keep its doors open to the children of key workers during the coronavirus lockdown after securing a £1.6 million loan from Lloyds Bank, brokered by Goodman Corporate Finance.
Children 1st Day Nurseries has 24 sites across the Midlands and South Yorkshire, 5 sites of which are in Nottinghamshire. It has continued to provide care for children whose parents are key workers, and for the most vulnerable, since the Government’s shutdown of schools and nurseries more than two weeks ago.
But the group has faced a significant fall in revenue since the lockdown, with just 15 per cent of the almost-4,000 children it usually provides care for currently attending its nurseries. Children 1st has also suspended nursery fees for parents facing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The business secured the £1.6 million finance agreement from Lloyds Bank and was also offered a 12-month capital repayment holiday on its existing borrowing.
Adrian Mason, managing director at Children 1st, said: “It’s really important that we keep our nurseries open so key workers can continue with the vital work that’s keeping the country safe and working, but a huge drop in attendance numbers after the lockdown was announced meant that cashflow was becoming a problem.
“Not only will this new funding mean we can carry on supporting key workers and vulnerable children, it also means that we can retain our amazing team of employees and ensure the long-term future of the company. It’s all been possible thanks to the fast response of Lloyds Bank and Goodman Corporate Finance.”
Jon Saltinsall, senior healthcare banking consultant at Lloyds Bank, said: “The finance secured by Children 1stwill act as a much-needed buffer to the company as it, like many other firms, overcomes unprecedented challenges in the weeks and months ahead.
“It’s a fantastic example of a strong-willed firm that’s fighting through the crisis so it can continue to play support the UK’s essential workforce.”
Paul Goodman, managing director at Goodman Corporate Finance comments: “Children 1st Day Nurseries undertook prompt strategic planning to guarantee its future in these unprecedented times. The funding agreed by Lloyds Bank will reassure both Children 1st and the thousands of families it supports that the company will not only survive the current crisis, but can look forward to a bright future.”
Children 1st was founded in 1988 by Margaret Mason, who received an OBE in 2017 for her services to early years education. It has since grown to become one of the UK’s largest, family-owned childcare providers, with 83% of its settings rated as ‘Outstanding in All Areas’ by Ofsted, the joint highest in the UK*. The company now cares for 3,621 children and employs more than 600 people.