Listed childcare company wants to buy 200 centres from collapsed operators

Australia’s last remaining listed childcare company, Early Learning Services, is interested in buying 200 centres from collapsed childcare operators ABC Learning and CFK Childcare Centres.

Australia’s last remaining listed childcare company, Early Learning Services, is interested in buying 200 centres from collapsed childcare operators ABC Learning and CFK Childcare Centres.

ELS chief executive John Hutchison says the company has been approached by a number of landlords and “stakeholders of ABC Learning Centres” about the possibility of taking over parts of ABC’s network.

“It’s important to note that Early Learning Services will not make any rash decisions. We are committed to evaluating the suitability of potential acquisitions and partnerships to ensure they meet the company’s criteria,” Hutchison says.

Hutchison describes ELS as “the only successful listed childcare company in Australia” but it has had some issues in recent months. The company posted a loss of $1.2 million in the six months to 30 June and was recently forced to renegotiate its banking covenants with National Australia Bank in order to “re-classify its debt as non-current and confirm its going-concern status”.

But Hutchison says the company has the support of its shareholders and financiers for its planned expansion.

Hutchison also says the company’s tight management systems – including weekly reporting of key indicators such as occupancy levels and costs – will help it avoid the problems that have befallen ABC and CFK.

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