Little Scholars opens new service in challenging times as brokers signal first signs of sentiment shift
Queensland based early education and care (ECEC) provider Little Scholars School of Early Learning has opened its ninth campus in Redland Bay, Queensland in a sign that established operators are continuing to move ahead with expansion plans despite the challenges created by COVID-19, a move that is supported by a pick up in activity reported by both business and real estate brokers in recent days.
Little Scholars’ CEO Jae Fraser said that the provider is “committed to keeping our doors open to ensure our healthcare and economic systems do not fall apart. It’s a tough game at the moment but everyone has been working so well together – educators, the government and families – so I am staying hopeful.”
The centre saw 70 families attend on day one, all of which were essential workers and have a total of 132 families already enrolled.
The willingness for new services to open despite uncertainty about their eligibility for JobKeeper support, and also their omission from the ECEC Relief Package is indicative of a sense that COVID-19 will pass and operating conditions will, in time, return to normal.
This is a sentiment shared by business and real estate brokers operating in the ECEC sector who have started to see enquiry levels pick up for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Hilary Knights, Queensland Director of ECEC brokerage ChildCare Concepts, noted that conversations with prospective buyers of ECEC services had increased in recent days, buoyed by the Government’s commitment to the sector and economy more generally.
Ms Knight also noted that prospective sellers at this juncture were becoming increasingly confident about their future viability and were currently focussed on navigating the current environment successfully in order to be ready for sale when the market stabilises again.
From a real estate perspective Adam Thomas, Director at Burgess Rawson Victoria signalled that positive sentiment was starting to trickle back into the market place in response to the sector’s stabilisation in recent weeks as Government support packages, both ECEC Relief and JobKeeper, packages filter through.
He went on to note that a number of factors, such as lower interest rates, continued volatility in equity markets and a strong historic track record for the ECEC sector would underwrite the property segment going forward and remained confident that the worst was behind us.