Goodstart and Big Fat Smile to merge
The Sector > Provider > Goodstart and Big Fat Smile to merge

Goodstart and Big Fat Smile to merge

by Jason Roberts

May 19, 2020

Goodstart Early Learning and Illawarra based organisation, Big Fat Smile, have agreed to a merger which will see Big Fat Smile become part of the wider Goodstart network, whilst retaining their ability to operate independently with it’s own branded centres and management teams. 


The deal is expected to close at the end of June 2020. 


Commenting on the transaction Goodstart CEO Julia Davison said “The merger will be an alliance between not-for-profit organisations with a shared commitment to children’s learning, development and wellbeing. There is much we can learn and leverage from each other.”


Whilst Jenni Hutchins CEO of Big Fat Smile said “We are very excited about this transaction. Our two organisations have aligned values and an aligned mission. There is so much we can now combine forces with and really make a difference to the children and communities that we serve.”


Big Fat Smile to retain independence with brand, team and network maintained


A key aspect of the transaction is that Big Fat Smile will retain full operational independence post the completion of the deal, with all 700 team members continuing to operate its 41 branded centres. 


“The Big Fat Smile services will continue to operate independently. They have deep roots in communities across the Illawarra as well as the Sydney Metropolitan Area, Southern Highlands, Wollondilly and Tablelands. Maintaining their independent operations will enable them to continue a stable presence in those regions, with our national backing.” said Ms Davison. 


To support their independence within the larger organisation, Big Fat Smile will retain their own board which will be made up of three of their current directors, including the current Board Chair, David Campbell and four new Goodstart board members. 


“Our organisations exist for children and families” said Mr Campbell “This will be a merger between friends and allies that will deliver a more certain future for all.”


Shared social purpose combined with pursuit of financial stability key drivers for deal  


Big Fat Smile operates across multiple service settings within the broader early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, including long day care, preschool and outside schools hours care. Currently 100 per cent of its 41 services are rated as meeting or exceeding the National Quality Standard, with the group also very active within the community via its inclusion programs. 


“Big Fat Smile brings an impressive track record of highest quality early education for children, and service to the community,” said Ms Davison before adding “The ECEC sector is becoming increasingly competitive and by joining forces with Big Fat Smile we will be in a strong position to ensure their valuable work continues.”


This sentiment was echoed by Ms Hutchins who highlighted that the ECEC sector broadly, and Big Fat Smile specifically, had experienced “many pressures” over recent years, including those of a financial nature and that Goodstart had demonstrated that not for profit enterprises can be both financially sustainable and true to their social purpose at the same time. 


“This agreement, many months in the making, will ensure Big Fat Smile has the financial stability it needs, ensuring the longevity of the Big Fat Smile organisation for future generations” she added.


Advocacy to continue as a priority for Big Fat Smile going forward 


In addition to retaining operational independence, Big Fat Smile will also retain its own voice when it comes to advocacy. 


Both Ms Hutchins and Mr Campbell have a long track record in advocating for better outcomes for children, families and communities, something which is sure to continue post the merger. 


“I am passionate about advocating for our children and families and I am thrilled that we will be able to continue to build on what we do so well at Big Fat Smile” Ms Hutchins said. 


To read the Big Fat Smile statement in relation to the merger in full, please click here

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