Thrive Childcare and Education Group
From left, Jan Tunnicliffe, nursery manager; Julie Swinnerton, founder; Beci Grieve, deputy manager; Sarah Dee, Thrive integration manager

Thrive Childcare and Education Group, a portfolio company of private equity firm Apiary Capital, has acquired Benison Day Nursery in Eccleston, which becomes the company’s third nursery in the Chester area.

Founded 36 years ago by principal Julie Swinnerton, Benison caters to 113 children, aged from newborn to five years old, as well as providing an after-school club and holiday club for children up to the age of 11.

Swinnerton said: “We started with one building for pre-school children and there was just myself and three staff. I lived in the house and brought up my four children there.”

Established in 2001 as Bertram Nursery Group, Thrive was initially backed by Rockpool Investments in 2014. Subsequently, Apiary Capital invested in the company’s management buyout in February 2019, in a deal that saw Rockpool exit its investment. Santander provided debt financing to support the buyout.

Sarah Dee, Thrive’s integrations manager, said: “Benison is a highly successful and well-run nursery, with a strong focus on children’s active learning and development, which is well-integrated into its local community. It has a wonderful forest school, a school gardening award from the Royal Horticultural Society in recognition of the children’s achievements in growing and harvesting produce and its own cookery school where children learn cooking skills and about healthy eating and nutrition.”

Michael Forrester, head of nursery acquisitions for Thrive Childcare, said: “We have again added a high-quality setting to our group. By acquiring successful nurseries, we can ensure the nursery team, children and parents experience no disruption during the handover and integration, as there’s no need to make changes to the way they are run.”

Law firm TLT and accountant Mazars supported the acquisition.

Benison has become Thrive’s 47th nursery in Northwest England and Scotland.

Date Published: 23 June 2022

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