THE ENTREPRENEUR behind a successful County Durham nursery has acquired two other businesses to grow her portfolio.

Laura Leigh Davies, the director of Child’s Play Private Nursery in Ferryhill, took over the reins of Buttercup nurseries in Seaham and Chester-le-Street this month.

As part of an expansion, that saw Buttercup rebranded under the Child’s Play name, 35 staff transferred and 135 children currently at Buttercups will continue to attend.

The 28-year-old launched Child’s Play Private Nursery five years ago with one other member of staff and four children.

In 2016 she was named Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

Child’s Play has since grown to employ 21 staff and cater for children from more than 100 families – and has twice been named in the top ten most recommended nurseries in the North East.

Laura recently benefited from advice from the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) – funded by the European Regional Development Fund – which links business with opportunities that can help them grow, such as business support, new contracts, suppliers and investment.

Laura said: “We’re thrilled to be acquiring Buttercup to grow the Child’s Play brand in the North East.

“Our ethos is to invest in staff and resources, and to innovate. We recently won the Best Use of Innovation Award at the North East Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for our online portal which allows parents to log in and access information about their child’s progress.

“Our growth and success has also been recognised by HRH Prince Charles at the Celebrate Success Awards, which resulted in an invite to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

“We have also been recognised in the Early Years sector at the Nursery World Awards and the National Day Nurseries Association Awards.

“We’ll be applying this approach to Buttercup sites to make sure the children there receive the very best learning and care experience, and parents are involved in their journey.”

The opportunity to buy Buttercup was brought to Laura’s attention by a mutual acquaintance of the two businesses.

For Laura the acquisition is just the beginning of what she hopes will be a blossoming child care group.

She added: “At Child’s Play we approach childcare with a focus on development.

“My ambition is to bring that model to other nurseries – eventually we’d like to have a group of five to six sites.”

Michael Harriott, business engagement officer at Durham Business Opportunities programme, said: “Laura’s business growth is an excellent example of the type of opportunity that’s available in the childcare sector.

“Durham Business Opportunities Programme has worked with RedKite Innovations to develop workshops specifically for managers of nurseries.

“Courses are being run up until the end of March covering business and financial planning, marketing, operational planning and building self-confidence.

“We are here to help small businesses across different sectors find the routes to growth.”