BGF invests €10.5m in Tigers Childcare group

Funding will help company pursue further plans for expansion

BGF Ireland head Leo Casey with Tigers Childcare founder and chief executive Karen Clince while Ben Reynolds and Daniella Flynn play away. Photograph: Fennells

British venture capital group Business Growth Fund (BGF) has put €10.5 million into fast-growing Irish childcare group Tigers Childcare in one of its largest investments in the Irish market to date.

Tigers operates 13 childcare facilities in Dublin and one in London, making it one of the largest childcare groups in the State. It employs more than 200 people and provides services to more than 2,000 children.

The company recently acquired the Little Fairies Creche and Montessori in Tallaght and has said that it is pursuing other acquisitions in the sector. It has said the new funding would provide the financial resources to drive that further expansion.

BGF specialises in taking long-term minority positions in small and medium-sized businesses. The group's Irish head, Leo Casey, said the investment, one of BGF's largest to date in Ireland, was a landmark deal for his group.


“Tigers is a great business led by a charismatic and inspiring founder and with a clear growth plan,” he said.

Mr Casey will join the Tigers Childcare board, chaired by Cormac Tobin who formerly led Lloyds Pharmacy parent McKessons. Lauren Sharpe, also of BGF, will join the board as an observer.

Tigers founder and chief executive Karen Clince said she looked forward to working with Mr Casey. She said the childcare group was "delighted" with the investment "which will see us continue to grow and push boundaries in the childcare space in Ireland and the UK.

“BGF really understands our business and the importance of maintaining quality through growth. It has felt very much like a partnership from the start and they align perfectly with our culture and values.”


The investment is the latest international engagement with the Irish childcare sector.

Last month, Busy Bees, a UK childcare provider, bought Park Academy Childcare, which has a portfolio of eight creches in Dublin and Wicklow. Busy Bees also owns Giraffe, another of Ireland's largest childcare groups, which it bought in 2019.

BGF was established in 2011 by five of Britain's main banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and Standard Chartered – in the wake of the financial crisis as an independent company with the aim of making up to £2.5 billion (€2.9 billion) of equity investments in SMEs.

This is the 10th investment by BGF in Ireland since the company began operations here in late 2017.

It brings the total value of investments by the company in Irish businesses to more than €60 million in that time. Among its other investments here are nursing home group Brindley Healthcare, home security operator Action24 and cybersecurity business Edgescan.

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle is Deputy Business Editor of The Irish Times