OakNorth Bank provides loan to Strawberry Fields Nursery and Preschool to pursue “buy and build” strategy of nurseries with swimming academies

  • Based in Chorley, Strawberry Fields is a newly developed purpose-built full-day nursery in Chorley, Lancashire, with capacity for 110 kids, a café, and a swimming academy;
  • The swimming academy provides Strawberry Fields with a differentiated offering in the market and an additional revenue stream outside of nursery hours;
  • Despite only being open for a few months, classes at the swimming academy are already at 80% capacity, proving to be hit with families in the local community;
  • With OakNorth Bank’s support, the business plans to pursue a buy and build strategy to expand its portfolio of nurseries with swimming academies.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; OakNorth Bank – the UK bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs – has provided growth capital to Strawberry Fields Nursery and Preschool, to pursue a buy and build strategy to bring more nurseries with swimming academies to market.

Strawberry Fields’ swimming academy has proven to be a hit with the Chorley locals, and a strong way to differentiate it from other nurseries in the area. This is evidenced by the fact that despite having only been open for a few months, swimming classes have already reached 80% capacity. With several hundred people working at a business hub directly opposite the nursery, c.10,000 homes within a two-mile radius of it, and c.150 new homes being built right behind it, it is expected to be at full capacity within months.

The nursery also has a purpose-built café and is part of RedRose Leisure Group, which counts Planet Kaos nursery in Blackpool and PK Kids nursery in Eccleston in its portfolio – both of which have Ofsted ratings of “Good”. RedRose Leisure Group is owned by Andrew Rose and Simon Redwood – both of whom have owned and operated children’s nurseries alongside their full-time jobs for the last eight years. Andrew is a Senior Quantity Surveyor for family-run SME housebuilder, Baxter Homes, while Simon works as a fireman at South Shore station in Blackpool. They started in business together in 2008 with a play centre and with the profits from that, began building their nursery portfolio.

Commenting on the transaction, Simon Redwood, Director of RedRose Leisure Group, said: “Our aim with Strawberry Fields is to create a leading independent nursery business where kids can learn in the classroom and the pool. Learning to swim doesn’t only provide numerous physical health benefits, but also has significant mental health benefits as well, as the earlier a child starts swim lessons, the more self-confident they become. I thought applying for a bank loan would be harder than fighting fires, but with OakNorth Bank, it proved to be a simple and enjoyable process. The team understand the early years sector and the potential of our offering, so were willing to help at a time when many other lenders were turning away from the sector due to ongoing Covid challenges.”

Tom Jessop, Associate Director of Debt Finance at OakNorth Bank, commented: “Simon and Andrew have successfully owned and operated two nursery sites since 2013, whilst both working full time jobs.  This is testament to their incredible work ethic and the strong team they’ve built around them. They completed the construction of their third nursery, Strawberry Fields, during one of the most challenging periods in history for the sector – and have built it with a swimming academy, giving it a strong market differentiator and additional revenue stream outside of nursery hours. With this capital from OakNorth Bank, they have the financial firepower to expand this unique offering and provide even more kids with the opportunity to learn how to swim.”

OakNorth Bank was advised on the transaction by solicitors, Milana Katz and Stavros Theophilou, at Lawrence Stephens.



Notes to editors

About OakNorth Bank plc

Launched in September 2015 and founded by entrepreneurs, OakNorth Bank provides fast, flexible, and accessible debt finance to the UK’s Missing Middle.

Since its launch, the bank has:

  • Lent over £7B, directly helping with the creation of 31,600 new jobs and 22,300 new homes across the UK.
  • Raised deposits from c.160,000 savers.
  • Supported several hundred businesses across the UK with the debt finance to pursue their growth ambitions.

It is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. 

Visit www.oaknorth.co.uk for more information.


Valentina Kristensen, Director – Growth & Communications – [email protected] / [email protected] / +44 757 234 9009

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