Data derived from the first Buyer Registration Index shows an impressive overall increase of 140 per cent in child centric buyer registration figures from 27 April - shortly after the UK government announced the beginning of the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions - to 22 June 2020.
The child centric sectors have seen the biggest uptick of all the sectors in which Christie & Co specialise, the others of which have risen an average of 69 per cent per sector. This may be due to the ongoing demand for childcare, education and specialist childcare services throughout this period. Even when the UK was in its strictest lockdown phase, many day nurseries, schools, and specialist childcare businesses remained operational, caring for children of frontline workers, and providing care to vulnerable children.
Christie & Co expect this general trajectory of increased activity to be maintained, particularly as banks begin to focus more actively on new lending.
For additional context relative to the UK’s transition out of the nationwide lockdown, the Index results are overlaid against vehicle traffic data. There is a positive correlation between overall website derived new buyer activity and vehicle traffic movements which have grown by 70 per cent and 89 per cent respectively since 27 April.
Courteney Donaldson, Managing Director of Childcare & Education at Christie & Co, comments, “In the past, the contribution made by day nurseries in particular has been undervalued, but in rising to the fore, especially at this time where childcare staff put themselves on the frontline to ensure that children of key workers are looked after while their parents continue to work, the sector has been cited as being the fourth emergency service by Tulip Siddiq MP, Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years, an opinion echoed by many. In addition to the profile of the sector being raised nationally, parents of nursery children, and indeed those ‘home-schooling’, increasingly seem to have recognised the value; significant importance of, and challenges associated to, the thought, contribution and boundless energy that is involved in providing ‘day-care’ to their own children let alone others, all of which has had a positive impact on parental and public perception of the role nurseries, practitioners, schools, teachers and those providing care to the most vulnerable children play.
“Despite the challenges of the last quarter, there has been a significant surge in activity as, in part, is evidenced by the 140 per cent in child centric buyer registration figure, and many high-quality buyers have been keen to agree deals on new acquisitions. In addition to ‘new buyers’ registering their interest in new opportunities during recent months, existing operators, including regional, nationwide and indeed international groups, have reaffirmed their keenness to acquire. A wide range of investors have equally reaffirmed their desire to acquire child centric portfolio platforms as buy and build investments. Our team have continued to see plenty of activity from potential sellers who are asking us to provide advice. Despite physical visits to nurseries, schools and children’s homes having been prohibited during lockdown, our team have been able to view properties virtually via videos tours.
“The next few months will be an especially pivotable period for nurseries and education business and, as we move toward the commencement of the new academic year, it is hoped that by late August / early September operators will have a clearer picture of what attendance numbers and future trading performance might look like. There will be challenges as some operators incur costs from bringing businesses out of hibernation alongside further pressures for leasehold property occupiers to pay rent. However, what we have learnt over many years is that the UK’s child centric sectors are resilient and it is hoped that, with continued support of all stakeholders, the majority of educational establishments will be able to successfully trade through this difficult period and come out the other side.
“Undoubtedly, a wide range of challenges lie ahead. Levels of market activity and the impact of Covid-19 on business valuations remain incredibly difficult to predict. There remains so many uncertainties and unknowns, yet, despite these, many green shoots of positivity are evident, and we remain fully on hand, dedicated to supporting our clients in whatever capacity that may be.”
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