Our Kids Planet journey begins! Our owner and founder Clare, a new mum to Isabelle (her first of three girls), launched Kids Planet in response to her struggle to find flexible, suitable childcare for her busy life. This proud year saw the opening of our first two nurseries – Warrington and Widnes.
Year 2 saw lots of changes as our Nursery Group established and grew. With the launch of Kids Planet Head Office and the opening of Beamont and Lymm nurseries, we doubled the number of children we cared for – such a proud achievement for us as a team.
The start of the new decade was an exciting time for our growing team. The opening of Kids Planet Hale was a highlight, alongside the pride of winning, ‘Start-up Business of the Year’ in Warrington. We were also finalists for three ‘Nursery World’ awards.
With Kids Planet going from strength to strength nurturing and caring for children across five nurseries, Clare’s sister Lucy joined the team as Childcare Director. We were pleased to acquire Bridge Farm Crewe Nursery and equally proud to be finalists for many awards. One of the best moments was seeing Lauren Helmsley (Warrington) win ‘Early Years Practitioner of the Year’ at the Nursery World awards.
This year was an amazing year for awards. After 4 years and with 6 nurseries in our group taking care of hundreds of children and employing dozens of brilliant people, Amanda Brown won Nursery Manager of the Year and Jemma Morris won Newcomer of the Year at the Nursery World Awards.
A bumper year for new nurseries as we opened Kids Planet Prestwich and Sale, whilst acquiring Jeffrey’s Corner Nurseries in Springhead and Dukinfield. Taking us to a group of 10 nurseries, every opening and acquisition enabled us to grow and develop as a fantastic childcare business focused on children and their families. We were thrilled to win three prestigious awards – Nursery World’s Pre-School of the Year, plus two awards from Nursery Management Today – Best Nursery Indoor Learning Environment and Green Nursery of the Year (Lymm).
Making our way west, we were excited to acquire Liverpool Nurseries Ltd. and welcome Crosby, Fazakerley and Greenbank to the Kids Planet family. We also headed to the seaside by acquiring Yarrow House Nursery in sunny Southport. Two of our great team, Hannah Birchall and Julie Craddock, were shortlisted for prestigious awards too.
This year saw our Manchester locations grow with Lymehurst Nursery joining our group, launching as Kids Planet Urmston, and the opening of Kids Planet Salford Quays in the busy, urban commercial centre of Manchester’s Exchange Quay. We were thrilled to be listed in Manchester’s ’50 fastest-growing companies’ and were shortlisted for many awards including Warrington’s ‘Business of the Year;’. Key highlights were also Laura Cox (Crosby) winning Nursery World’s ‘Newcomer of the Year’ and winning Nursery Management’s ‘Nursery Group of the Year’.
By acquiring Happy Day Nursery in Davenport and Hilltop Day Nursery in Congleton as well as opening Kids Planet Billinge and Kids Planet Swinton, we reached over 20 nurseries! Our team were very proud to be shortlisted for and win several awards including ‘No. 1 Nursery Group in the country for Quality’ from Nursery World, ‘Best Children’s Day Centre’ (Warrington) from SME and Nursery Business Development’ from Nursery Management Today. We were very excited for our owner and founder Clare to win both ‘Female Icon Entrepreneur’ and ‘North West Woman of the Year SME’ from Barclays.
This was the year we launched our In-house Training Academy, helping hundreds of people achieve their dreams of working in childcare and attaining professional qualifications. A bumper year for new nurseries we acquired Newlands Nursery School in Preston, Happy Bunnies in Frodsham, Child’s Play in Liverpool and Stretton Private Day Nursery in Warrington. Later in the year, we acquired Bunnies Day Nursery Chester and Harrison Day Nursery in Wallasey. We also opened Kids Planet Adswood in Stockport, Kids Planet Great Sankey and Kids Planet Hoylake near Chester. It was also the year we took on our 1000th employee! We celebrated the year and our 10th anniversary with our first Kids Planet awards evening.
As we continued to offer excellent and flexible childcare, we acquired and opened 13 new nurseries. The first was Jelly Babies Day Nursery in Little Lever, closely followed by the acquisition of Chesterfield-based ‘Excellence in Childcare’ which added five excellent nurseries to our group in Brampton, Chesterfield, Newbold, North Wingfield and Sheepbridge. Wendy House Day Nursery was acquired in Litherland alongside Rainbow Day Nursery’s three nurseries in Middlewich, Haslington and Mablins Lane (Crewe). Two more acquisitions of Noah’s Ark Day Nursery in Great Broughton and Nutkins Day Nursery in Eccles happened alongside the opening of our new purpose-built nursery in Worsley.Winning a host of prestigious awards concluded this bumper year including ‘Nursery Group of the Year’ (Nursery Management Today), NMT’s ‘Nursery Indoor Learning Environment Award’ for Wallasey, Gill Mason won Nursery World’s ‘Trainer of the Year’, Kids Planet Adswood won the Quality Mark Award and Gemma Medd won ‘Early Years Teacher of the Year’.
In early 2020, we were delighted to acquire the Kids Allowed nursery group. This took us to a further 8 great locations across South Manchester and Cheshire including Cheadle Royal, Christie Fields, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Stockport, MFT South, Altrincham and Trafford City. We now have over 50 nurseries and close to 2000 staff in our group committed to caring for and nurturing over 7500 children. Where will we be landing next?!
In a year dominated by a global pandemic, we were delighted to see our brand new Chester nursery open as well as a successful launch in Shropshire as Kids Planet Shrewsbury opened its doors in June. Excitingly, we moved into the south of the UK for the first time, having acquired 5, University of Oxford nurseries previously managed by Bright Horizons.
With a brand new purpose-built nursery being built in Winnington as well as the acquisition of the Learning Curve Nursery group involving a further 5 nurseries in Blackpool and Lytham St Annes, we are on a roll!
In July, we acquired Poppy and Jacks group of ten nurseries across the North West and Nottinghamshire, closely followed by two acquisitions in August – Burbage in Hinckley, Lancashire, and Peepo Day Nurseries three nurseries – Hatchford, Solihull, and Moseley.
We are showing no signs of stopping, having acquired Inside Out in Coventry and Poppins in Cheadle in September, and walking away from the Nursery World Awards on Saturday 25th September as WINNERS of TWO awards: Nursery Group of the Year, and Online and Social Media.
October saw us acquire Tic Toc Day Nursery in Coventry, and as the year is drawing to a close, we are still expanding our Kids Planet family – in November we announced that we will operate the University of Cambridge Chris Abell Nursery from January next year, and we made the move into Yorkshire, acquiring Rainbow Day Nursery in Tadcaster.
Continuing our expansion into Yorkshire, in December we acquired Kinder Haven Nurseries, a group of nine nurseries across Bradford and Leeds.
Not long after this, we acquired George Perkins Day Nursery in Birmingham, and Hanford Day Nursery in Stoke-on-Trent, taking our total number of nursery settings to 96 as the year draws to a close.