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Higgs & Sons advise on French company's first multi-site UK acquisition

21st February 2019

Higgs & Sons advise on French company's first multi-site UK acquisition

Specialist advisors from Higgs & Sons acted on behalf of French based company La Maison Bleue (LMB) in its first multi-site acquisition in the UK’s childcare sector.

LMB, one of the three largest players in the French childcare sector, the leader in Switzerland and the second largest player in Luxembourg, has bought The Old Station Nursery group.

Founded in 2002 by Sarah Steel, The Old Station Nursery is a highly regarded childcare provider across Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire, and operates nine nurseries and one after-school club. Thanks to the founder’s deep knowledge of the nursery sector, the group has always fostered a development strategy based on providing the best possible environment for children and building a network of nurseries in attractive locations.

La Maison Bleue (LMB) has seen great expansion over the past years. Founded in 2004 by Sylvain Forestier and Antonia Ryckbosch – a childcare professional – La Maison Bleue has built a strong and innovative educational project, where the quality of childcare provided is of paramount importance. As such, nursery managers and staff work together to provide the best possible environment for children and encourage their development harmoniously, while respecting their own pace and providing them with the comfort and security needed to ensure their emotional balance

LMB’s development is driven by a team of entrepreneurial managers backed by financial sponsors, TowerBrook Capital Partners and Bpifrance, with a strong ambition to become a leading player in Europe. Since 2010, LMB has experienced a 40% revenue growth per annum and now manages around 300 nurseries.

LMB has a strong track-record in investing into its existing estate and new nurseries to grow its presence, as well as acquiring new businesses with a strategy to build partnerships. The main goal is to develop the acquired companies while allowing them to benefit from the synergies from being part of a leading network.

The acquisition of The Old Station Nursery represents a first foothold in the UK market where LMB has ambitious growth plans. As such, the group plans more acquisitions as it strives to become one of the significant market players.

Sylvain Forestier, CEO of La Maison Bleue said: “We have been impressed by The Old Station Nursery’s achievements its business focus on quality childcare. We highly value Sarah’s extensive experience in the sector and are delighted by the prospect of partnering with her and The Old Station Nursery team to create together one of the UK leading players in the childcare market.

“As our first acquisition in the UK we are delighted to have taken our first steps into the UK market and this (deal) represented a major development for our organisation.

“We needed to be confident that our advisors were able to offer specialist sector-specific advice across a number of areas including corporate, tax and property matters. Higgs & Sons clearly demonstrated their knowledge of working in the Childcare sector and that they were more than capable of fulfilling our requirements and adapting to changing situations by helping to deliver a successful outcome on what was a significant strategic transaction for us.

“We were pleased to work alongside our relationship manager partner Susheel Gupta and the team at Higgs and we look forward to working with them again as we continue to further our strategic UK development plans.”

Sarah Steel, CEO of The Old Station Nursery, said: “We are really pleased to be joining La Maison Bleue, as it allows us to build on all that we have achieved over the last 16 years, whilst enjoying the support of a leading company, which is also focused on quality. It’s a really exciting move for us all at The Old Station Nursery and we look forward to working closely together.”    

Geoff Kettle, who heads up the Childcare Team at Higgs & Sons, said: “We were delighted to advise on this deal which is a real success story for both LMB and The Old Station Nursery. This was a complex deal and we were able to provide full legal support across various areas, including corporate, commercial, pensions, tax, property, employment and banking matters.”

Pictured from Left to Right: Emily Parkes, Solicitor, Higgs & Sons; Susheel Gupta, Partner, Higgs & Sons; Sylvain Forestier, CEO, La Maison Bleue; Sarah Steel, CEO, The Old Station Nursery; Fatima Zohra Essoufi, M & A manager, La Maison Bleue; Geoff Kettle, Partner, Higgs & Sons

 

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