Tigers Childcare has expanded its network just as the Government's staggered return to work promises a return of some sort of normality for the sector.
The group, one of the largest childcare operators in Ireland, has acquired the Little Fairies Creche and Montessori in Tallaght, which accommodates 90 children and has 13 staff. No price was disclosed.
The group is also in the middle of a new funding round that will give it the resources for further expansion. The business, run by Karen Clince, says it has further acquisitions and new greenfield site developments on its horizon.
“We are doubling down on our growth both in Ireland and the UK with the aim of bringing the Tigers model of care to even more children,” said Ms Clince, the group’s founder and chief executive.
“In the coming months we are looking to acquire more operators that align with our mission to deliver the highest-quality service and best developmental outcomes for children backed by a strong team.”
Tigers Childcare already operates 12 centres in the greater Dublin area as well as one in London. It has 183 staff and room for 2,000 children. Ms Clince said the majority of its facilities operate at 95 per cent capacity or above.
She said the challenges brought on by the Covid pandemic and the restrictions it involved have been causing smaller providers to ask whether it is worth their while continuing in business.
“The restrictions that applied to running childcare centres during the pandemic, as well as the continued professionalisation of the sector, have put added pressures on smaller operators – with many looking to exit. Staff recruitment and retention have become major issues for the vast majority,” said Clince.
“Covid affected our business just as much as it did other services, especially in the early stages of shutdown. However we were probably in a better position to weather the storm having completed a round of fundraising that left us with money in the bank to help with the initial close,” said Ms Clince.
Anne Byrne, the founder and owner of Little Fairies, said it was "with a heavy heart that I let go of this setting in Tallaght". She said Tigers' decision to retain all her staff had been very important to her.
Tigers secured a €5 million capital injection via a loan from DunPort Capital at the start of last year to help support the company’s expansion in Ireland and the UK. It expects to conclude its current funding round in the coming weeks.