In 2003 while on a maternity break from a job as a Director’s personal assistant Marcelle Imrie decided to train to be a child minder so that she would be able to provide a child minding service from home.
Having qualified she was surprised to receive a call from the local authority to say that a local pre-school had closed down and asking if she was interested in taking it on.
Marcelle seized the opportunity and got a loan from the Princes Trust to take on her first business - a small, term time only pre-school in Bickley, and the company – Blossom Years – was born.
She soon discovered that she had a talent for the business and took on a derelict day centre in Chislehurst and turned it into a full time day nursery operating 51 weeks of the year for 10.5 hours a day.
With the business growing so rapidly Marcelle’s husband Chris left his job in Sales and Marketing to join the business.
The company has continued to grow and now has 40 employees supporting three hundred families in six locations across Chislehurst, Bromley, Bickley and Downham. The company has also diversified with a Montessori Pre - School in Chislehurst.
Marcelle said: “I could never have predicted how popular our businesses would be and the speed of growth. There are challenges to running a business but a real sense of achievement as well.
I believe that part of the reason for our success has been the fact that we invest in the business and particularly in our teams, helping them to gain qualifications and move up through the company. We want to retain our staff and help them to develop their careers. This means that we have low staff turnover which is great for the parents and the children as the staff can get to know them well.
We believe that learning happens best when a child is relaxed, confident and having fun. That is exactly the environment we strive to provide.”
The company continues to grow with a new Nursery School which recently opened in Winlaton Road, Bromley. The property was a pre-school which ceased trading in 2013. Chris and Marcelle have undertaken a complete refurbishment of the property and it is now taking applications.
Heidi Alexander MP visited the business to meet the team and formally open the premises. She said: "Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and it's good to see enterprises like Blossom Years expanding. There is an ever growing need for high quality childcare and I wish Blossom Years every success with their new nursery in Downham“.
Marcelle and Chris are complimentary about the support they have received from Barclays, and particularly their business manager Joy Green. Chris said: “Joy has been great – a real pleasure to work with, she is always available when we need her and provides just the right level of contact and support.”
Joy Green said: “It has been great to see how Marcelle and Chris have managed their business through this period of growth. They are providing a valuable service to parents and children and I look forward to working with them long into the future.”