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Press Release

Grant Thornton advises on PE investment in leading nursery group

Grant Thornton UK LLP corporate finance team has advised on a significant investment and growth capital raise for Storal, one of the largest privately-owned nursery groups in England.

A new partnership with mid-market private equity firm Graphite Capital, will see Storal continue its rapid organic and acquisitive growth.

Founded in 2016 by entrepreneurs Ashwin Grover and Varun Chanrai, Sarah Mackenzie joined Storal as CEO in 2022, who brought with her a wealth of industry experience. Storal now operates 28 nurseries and two out-of-school clubs providing early years education to over 2,000 children. It has earned a reputation as one of the highest quality providers in the country, ranking fourth in this year’s Nursery World Ofsted quality rankings.

Storal has built a nationwide presence through successfully launching and acquiring single site and small group settings, integrating them into its platform.

The core philosophy at Storal revolves around the belief that every child has a different story to tell. Its nurseries offer children a transformative journey of learning and discovery, where curiosity and creativity intersect, and the joys of childhood are cherished.

The group has developed a proprietary curriculum that is consistently implemented across its nurseries, designed to support and enhance children's understanding, skills, and self-confidence while nurturing a love for learning.

As education sector-specialists, Grant Thornton has a long-standing relationship with the founders, initially advising on a debt refinance and fundraise in 2021. As well as corporate finance advisory the firm provided debt advisory, financial and tax due diligence, financial modelling and tax services to the shareholders.


Sarah Mackenzie, CEO at Storal, said: 

“Having worked with the Grant Thornton team before we were confident that they were the right advisors to support us on this transaction. The dedication, insight and expertise they have brought to this process and to helping us to find the right partner for this next chapter of our story has been invaluable. We’re very pleased to have now partnered with Graphite, and I am confident that their support will enable us to achieve our vision of becoming the nursery group that every family and educator wants to be part of.”


Andrew Frame, Director at Grant Thornton, said: 

"Storal is a business I have admired for a long time, led by a team of passionate entrepreneurs who have built an incredible platform across England through acquisition and new openings. The business has a clear growth strategy to broaden access to high-quality early years learning at a time when there is increasing political support and recognition of the educational and societal benefits.”


“The business attracted significant interest with over a dozen investment offers recognising the unique quality platform that Storal represents. We take great pride in seeing Graphite partner with the team and we wish Sarah, Ash and Varun every success in the future.”


The corporate finance team comprised Andrew Frame, Mike Tillson, Will Rose, Niall McDonald, Vincent Egunlae and Gareth Maxted.

This transaction builds on Grant Thornton’s market-leading position in the education and training sector in general and the nursery market in particular, following the sale of Davidson-Roberts to Family First; nine Mama Bear’s settings to Grandir UK; The London Preschool Group to Three Little Birds; Kew and St Margarets Montessori Schools to Dukes Education; and Little Brackens Nursery to Forfar Education.


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