Oakley Capital’s Oakley Capital IV (Fund IV) is to invest in ICP Education Holding Limited (ICP Education), an independent group of UK nurseries.
Fund IV will invest alongside the management team, which is led by Executive Chairman Stephen Booty, CEO Dominic Harrison, and CFO Clare Wilson.
ICP Education is one of the largest nursery operators in the UK, serving nearly 6,000 children at 44 nurseries across England, predominantly in London and the South East. The Group is one of the highest quality large nursery operators in England, with a third of nurseries rated Ofsted Outstanding and 98 per cent rated Outstanding or Good. In addition, last year ICP was ranked as the 14th Best Place to Work in the UK by Glassdoor, across all categories.
ICP Education has achieved a strong track record of growth since its foundation. Enrolments were negatively impacted through UK Covid-19 lockdowns, however the business has quickly recovered to pre-Covid occupancy levels in recent months.
The UK nursery sector is a GBP6.7 billion market serving an estimated 850,000 children across 15,000 nurseries, most of which continue to be owned and operated on a single-site basis. The market has grown steadily at 4.5 per cent CAGR between 2010-2019 driven by rising female labour market participation and an increasing awareness of the importance of early years education.
Oakley is one of the most active investors in the European education sector. To date, platform investments in the sector have included Inspired Education, a leading global schools group; Schülerhilfe, Europe’s largest tutoring group; IU Group (formerly Career Partner Group), the largest and fastest growing university in Germany; ACE Education, a leading French university group; and Ocean Technologies Group, the leading provider of e-learning to the maritime industry.
Peter Dubens, Managing Partner of Oakley Capital, says: “Our experience investing in high-quality businesses within the Education sector has led us to identify the nursery sector as an attractive area which is enjoying sustained growth. We look forward to partnering with Stephen, Dominic and Clare, as they continue to grow one of the leading premium nursery groups in Europe.”
Stephen Booty, Executive Chair of ICP Education, says: “We are very much looking forward to our partnership with Oakley, given their depth of experience as investors in Education. The team has a real appreciation of how important it is to be focused on providing the highest standards of quality care and early years education, and we are looking forward to working with them to realise our growth ambitions in the UK and internationally.”