OakNorth Bank has completed a loan to Little Explorers Day Nursery, based in Essex, to support the acquisition of an eight-bed detached house in Epping Forest and convert it into a nursery.
Little Explorers was founded by Lee Stimpson in 2015 and has received a number of accolades, including a nomination as one of the top 20 nurseries in London. By providing high-quality education and focusing on hiring level 3 qualified nursery practitioners, Little Explorers has managed to achieve a Good Ofsted rating and develop a strong reputation.
The nursery has strong expansion plans, hoping to open five more nurseries over the next 10-15 years in strategic locations on the outskirts of London.
Lee Stimpson, Founder and Director of Little Explorers Day Care Nursery Limited, commented: ‘We’re very excited about expanding our portfolio – the first step into broadening it to several other nurseries in the next few years. Despite the ongoing challenges of Covid-19 we were able to demonstrate Little Explorers’ successful track record pre-Covid-19, and our growth plans for the years to come. As a sector that has been heavily impacted by the lockdown, I’m incredibly grateful for OakNorth Bank’s support during this time.’
Ben Barbanel, Head of Debt Finance at OakNorth Bank, said: ‘At a time when most lenders are retrenching from the SME lending market, we’re still seeing numerous opportunities to support strong businesses with their growth ambitions. Since the beginning of lockdown, we’ve approved over £110m in new loans, of which £40m are through CBILS. This transaction provided an opportunity to support a nursery business with an excellent track record in terms of both quality and occupancy. We look forward to continuing to work with the team in the future.’
The current crisis has meant that the vast majority of transactions and deals are done virtually. NMT asked Ben if he had experienced any difficulty in maintaining that personal touch while working remotely?
‘As a fully cloud-hosted bank, we’re well-equipped to handle remote work and have shifted from in-person Credit Committees to virtual ones. Since the lockdown began, we’ve worked around the clock to meet with new and existing clients to discuss their borrowing needs and have hosted more than 75 virtual Credit Committees to ensure we can continue to lend to viable British businesses, such as Little Explorers. With nurseries having been one of the hardest hit industries during lockdown, this deal demonstrates our continued efforts to support this sector.’