UK-headquartered childcare provider Busy Bees buys Park Academy Childcare

Call for the Government to make childcare affordability a top priority in budget

Busy Bees entered the Irish market in 2019 with the purchase of the Giraffe chain of creches, adding 21 facilities to the business.  Photograph: iStock

Busy Bees entered the Irish market in 2019 with the purchase of the Giraffe chain of creches, adding 21 facilities to the business. Photograph: iStock

 

UK-headquartered childcare provider Busy Bees has bought Park Academy Childcare, expanding the number of childcare facilities it owns in Ireland. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Park Academy Childcare, which has eight creches in south Dublin and north Wicklow, was established in 1995, and cares for up to 700 children a day. It provides early-years care to children between three months and five years of age, along with after-school care for children up to 12 years.

“We are delighted to welcome the children, parents and staff from Park Academy to Busy Bees,” said the company’s Ireland chief executive Siobhan Moore. “We’re looking forward to building on the teams’ successes, while continuing to provide exceptional care for young children in the local area.”

The acquisition will bring the total number of childcare providers owned by Busy Bees to 650 globally. The company cares for more than 55,000 children in Britain, Ireland, Jersey, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, North America and Italy. It was founded in 1983.

Busy Bees entered the Irish market in 2019 with the purchase of the Giraffe chain of creches, adding 21 facilities to the business.

“We are constantly striving to deliver on our vision to give more children the best start in life within the UK and overseas. We take great pride in our commitment to providing quality care and education, and that’s why there is no better feeling than welcoming another fantastic setting to our Busy Bees family which perfectly aligns with our values,” said Cheryl Creaser, Europe chief executive at Busy Bees.

News of the acquisition came as Childhood Services Ireland (CSI), the Ibec group representing the childcare sector, called on the Government to make addressing childcare affordability a top priority in Budget 2022.

“With an average cost of 20 per cent of household income, childcare in Ireland is inaccessible for some families due to low State investment in universal subsidies. Increased subsidies mean parents won’t have to choose between their careers and family responsibilities,” said CSI director Darragh Whelan.

Competitiveness

Mr Whelan welcomed new research from the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council’s that he said recognised the critical role childcare plays in the State’s competitiveness, as well as how the needs of the childcare sector must be addressed as a crucial element of social infrastructure.

The report noted that it has long been recognised that childcare in the State is “expensive”, with parents paying some of the highest gross and net costs relative to the average national wage across a broad range of European and OECD countries.

Mr Whelan said Budget 2022 should “look holistically” at the childcare sector as a whole and acknowledge that dealing with “critical deficiencies in State funding” for providers is crucial in improving the State’s competitiveness.

He called for significant improvements to the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, and for funding to be provided to allow for improved staff terms and conditions.

“These measures are critical in ensuring a sustainable and quality early-years sector that make Ireland an attractive place to live and work,” he said.