About 100 nursery staff are losing their jobs across the North West ahead of Christmas after nine centres are being closed by a Preston entrepreneur.
Businessman Simon Rigby confirmed that nine out of 12 Safehands Nurseries which are closing today will not reopen after Christmas.
One of the branches to shut is in Ribbleton Avenue in Preston.
But Mr Rigby has said that the Safehands nurseries at Preston’s Guild Hall and in Seasiders Way, Blackpool are both safe.
Of the three nurseries remaining open, about 35 jobs still exist.
“It is business as usual in Blackpool and The Guild Hall but the one in Ribbleton is closing,” Mr Rigby said.
“They are closing for Christmas today anyway and they will not be reopening after Christmas.
“We have sold our care business and our nurseries out of Safehands.
“Some nurseries have been picked up and some haven’t.
“Certain nurseries have been sold. Nurseries that haven’t sold have been closed. They are still for sale but as closed nurseries.”
“There are circa 100 jobs in the nurseries that are being closed but all staff have been asked if we can pass their details on if a buyer comes forward in the short term.”
On the Ribbleton centre, which employs about 10 staff members, Mr Rigby said: “It’s all happened very quickly.
“Over the last couple of days staff will have got to know about it.
“We have got to move quickly with these things.
“But it will be business as usual with the Guild Hall nursery and the Blackpool one.”
However Mr Rigby also said that another division of the Safehands group, Safehands Care has been bought wholesale by PremierCare, thereby saving around 250 staff jobs.
“It’s a very very difficult market at the moment because we have an aging population,” he said. “We are very very pleased to be passing the baton on to a good operator.
“It’s good for securing local employment.
“There’s been a huge consolidation in the care sector now with bigger care companies.
“We have chosen to sell to an organisation which is heavily invested in this sector.
“The nursery part of the business lost its critical mass when we sold the bigger part and the smaller part wasn’t sustainable.”
Mr Rigby is keeping the two hotels in the Safehands Hotels division of the group.
The Safehands Nurseries closing are in: