FORMER teacher turned childcare entrepreneur Chris Passfield is selling the lion’s share of his Go Kindy centres to UK operator Busy Bees in a multi-million-dollar deal.
Maitland-raised Mr Passfield is selling 11 Go Kindy childcare centres in NSW and the ACT, including locations in Rutherford, Salt Ash, Cameron Park, Aberglasslyn and New Lambton.
He is retaining the Go Kindy childcare centres he owns in Merewether, Newcastle West and Carrington alongside a centre that will be built within weeks at Kahibah. He also has two centres in the pipeline for The Junction and Charlestown.
Busy Bees is the leading childcare operator in the UK with centres in Singapore, Canada, Malaysia and China.
In June it bought Brisbane-based Foundation Early Learning, comprising 32 centres, as its Australian operating platform.
Foundation Early Learning CEO Robert Hughes, now CEO in Australia for Busy Bees, said the Go Kindy centre acquisition was about scaling up, adding centres would be rebranded.
Mr Hughes said Go Kindy’s philosophies, values and business practices aligned with that of the global operator, which he said would “augment and bring global best practices” to its Australian operations.
Mr Passfield, 62, a former owner of the Kindy Patch group of centres, said the timing was right for he and wife Rhonda to divest.
“We had a long talk about it and we liked the quality of the product that [Busy Bee] are offering,” he said.
“I've been doing it for near 20 years and I’ve had centres from Brisbane down to border of NSW and it's been an interesting and exciting journey but it's also been tiring so I thought it was time to take a breath, divest and capitalise of the 20 years of input and effort but still stay in the sector I love.”
The deal has been 13 months in the making and centre managers and staff were told on Friday.
Declining to put a value on the deal, he said he would not rule out any future opportunities in building another centre group but said he was certain he would remain in the sector.
“All of the centres I am retaining are all brand new and it’s a Novocastrian brand and we are … looking over our own background to put more into our product that will enhance the learning experience for the children, their families and the community,” he said.