A NURSERY owner stepped in to save an after-school club from closure and launched a price freeze to support parents in the cost-of-living crisis.
Tony Gibbons made the decision not to increase childcare rates at Kiddies Corner sites in Bryniau Road and Llewelyn Avenue, Llandudno, and Parc Menai in Bangor for existing children and those joining this summer, until they leave to join full-time education.
It comes as Tony, who employs up to 45 staff, added the after-school club at Ysgol San Sior in Llandudno to their portfolio following the news it was to shut down.
With more than 200 youngsters now on its books, Kiddies Corner has gone from strength to strength in the last 12 months, and that looks set to continue.
“The big freeze on prices is for anyone whose child joins us before the next academic year and children already with us, until that child moves on to school,” said Tony, who lives with partner Rachael and son Oscar in the town.
“Life is challenging for everyone right now, with rising fuel bills, mortgage rates, the cost-of-living crisis and more, and we don’t want to add to that.
“They’ve shown us so much loyalty and we want to repay that by helping out in any way we can.”
He added: “We won’t be able to continue that forever as a sustainable business, but for those with us now or joining ahead of the next academic school year, we will commit to that, which for those parents with children under the age of one will be three years or more paying the same price.
“Some may regard it as a strange move, but we see the business as a family, we support each other and if it means we will all be better off long-term then that’s all that matters.”
Tony is keen to increase and improve after-school provision at Ysgol San Sior – which will be known as KC Clubs from September – by working in partnership with local organisations to introduce gardening sessions, gym classes, football training and more.
“We have the infrastructure to take it on and move it forward, so the children and parents won’t have to miss out. I know a lot of them are relieved we stepped in and on a personal note I’m delighted we could help,” he said.
For Tony the developments and investment in Kiddies Corner have never been about profit, but reputation and legacy as he builds on the foundations laid by mum Janette, a former childminder who founded the company in 1999 before sadly passing away last year.
“We have just had our best ever month for revenue at all of our nurseries, since opening nearly 25 years ago, and that money will be put back into our facilities and our incredible team who work so hard to keep standards high,” he said.
“As one of the sector’s few Real Living Wage employers, we are proud of each and every one of our staff, and we are always looking to develop, personally and professionally, including the apprentices we bring in and encourage.
“With the new app and website launched, and the price freeze in place we are looking to do all we can to make our operation as smooth and seamless as possible for the parents and carers who trust us with their most prized possessions… their children.
“Our strategy is to keep growing, keep getting better and keep the wellbeing of our staff, the children and their families our top priority, that’s something that will never change.”