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Sale of nursery business Kids 1st is a North East success story

Fast growing and highly rated North East nursery business Kids 1st has been sold to Busy Bees, the UK’s largest nursery provider, with support from the local professional services community.

After building the Kids 1st business during the past 12 years, from one nursery in Rake Lane to 11 across the North East, the entrepreneurial McArdle family are exiting the business.

Mark McArdle, Managing Director of Kids 1st, prior to the sale, said:

“We are extremely proud of the business’ growth and achievements. Our commitment to quality is behind the industry accolades it has earned over the years, from 17 outstanding Ofsted reports to being named Nursery Chain of the Year by Nursery World.

“My heartfelt thanks goes to the dedicated employees, who I have hugely enjoyed working with, and to our loyal customers. I wish the business continued success under the ownership of Busy Bees; a highly professional company, with a similar sense of purpose to Kids 1st.”

KPMG and Ward Hadaway in Newcastle advised the shareholders of Kids 1st.

Commenting, Mark McArdle said: “We have been extremely well advised by the professional services community here on our doorstep, with KPMG’s Newcastle office tapping in to deep national sector knowledge teamed with first class local execution.

“The team at Ward Hadaway also gave us absolute confidence that we were in safe hands, and supported us at each step throughout the process.”

Martin Hulls, Partner and Head of Corporate at Ward Hadaway, said: “Kids 1st has grown to become one of the leading lights in the nursery care sector so we were delighted to be able to advise its founders on the successful sale of the business to Busy Bees.

“We know that the team behind Kids 1st have put an awful lot of hard work and effort into building up the business, so it was a great privilege to be able to help them on this key step in the company’s development.”

Rod Wilkinson, who leads KPMG’s Corporate Finance practice in the North East, commented: “It’s a privilege to work with the entrepreneurs behind such a high quality business and I’m delighted the relationship we have built with the shareholders led to this prestigious brief.

“The industry recognition of Kids 1st as a market leading nursery and early years education provider made it a very appealing acquisition opportunity for Busy Bees.”


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