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UK: August Equity-backed Family First buys Davidson-Roberts

Family First Nursery Group, which is backed by private equity firm August Equity, has acquired nursery operator Davidson-Roberts.

Established in 2006 in Cambridgeshire, Davidson-Roberts grew through the acquisition of nine nurseries across Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. A number of its nurseries offer children Forest School sessions focused on encouraging a connection with the natural world.

Family First expects this acquisition to support its strategic plan to grow within commuter belts, metropolitan cities and areas of population growth, recognising that many parents are now working flexibly in the post-Covid era.

Founded three years ago, Family First aims to become one of the leading childcare providers in the UK. The latest acquisition follows a string of M&A activity, with the group completing six deals this year so far and a target of reaching 80 sites by the end of this year.

Family First is led by chairman Andy Morris, who has a strong track record in growing children’s nursery groups, having taken Asquith Nurseries to 92 nurseries before selling to Bright Horizons, the second largest chain in the UK. He subsequently helped grow the OAC Childcare Group in Australia from 24 nurseries to 79.

Grant Thornton UK’s corporate finance team advised the company on this deal.

The sale of Davidson-Roberts is the latest transaction in the nursery and wider education market run by the Grant Thornton team, following the sales of The London Preschool Group to Three Little Birds Nurseries, Kew and St Margaret’s Montessori Nurseries to Dukes Education, refinancing and raising an acquisition facility for Storal, acting for Kids Planet on their acquisition of Kids Allowed and raising additional financing facilities for Kids Planet to support their continued growth.

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