Great Scott, Hutson’s still the adviser

Written on the 15 September 2010

S8 founder and former chief executive of the now defunct MFS Chris Scott may have been appointed to lead Gold Coast-based listed childcare company Early Learning Services (ELS), but its chairman Jenny Hutson is the one doing most of the talking.

Since Scott’s appointment to managing director following a $40 million merger with Payce Childcare, the tourism entrepreneur has taken a back seat and dodged most of the media spotlight.

Payce Consolidated formerly operated its childcare business in a joint venture with the now collapsed Babcock & Brown.

“It has been decided that the one media contact for ELS is me at this point. Chris has a lot going on and I’m happy to field any questions.” Hutson told Gold Coast Business News.

Hutson is Scott’s former adviser at S8 and Octaviar (former MFS) cohort. The Wellington Capital boss says the ELS deal merger happened at ‘the right time, the right place and for the right price’.

“One of the things that not many people know about Chris Scott is that he’s a university economics medallist,” she says.

ELS is expected to triple its value and boost marketshare with more than 5000 childcare places across 98 childcare centres.

The $45 million cap company is aiming to become the largest for profit childcare operator in Australia – a space once dominated by Eddie Groves’ failed ABC Learning.

“There is a revolution in childcare as a consequence of ABC. We’re looking for sensible growth and that’s what Chris and I as a team are able to do,” says Hutson.

Hutson says ELS will look to increase its acquisitions to include a further 20-50 centres over the next 12 months.

ELS had a $146,000 loss for the 12 months to the end of December – a solid result compared to a $12.3 million loss in 2008.

Meanwhile ABC Learning creditors have voted in favour of a 45-day adjournment of a meeting to wind up the group of companies.

It’s been recommended to creditors that the companies be placed into liquidation.

The receivers, McGrathNicol and two companies, Austock and Orchard, which collectively own more than half the centres, called for the adjournment to allow further negotiations on centre leases.


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