Below is our 5th report on how we are doing with our Key Performance Indicators in the three main areas, Financial, Social, and Environmental:
2021/2022 Q2 Financial and all staff bonus scheme update
For the period ending September 2021 (Q2), the group’s revenue was £8.0m, which was below the budget set by £0.1m (1.2%) and was above 2019 (pre-COVID) by £0.4m (5.2%). However, in real terms, the results are slightly lower than pre-COVID results, as price increases have been about 5-8% combined over 2 years.
Our EBITDA* of £0.7m was above budget by £0.3m of which about £0.1m was costs delayed until later in the year and includes £0.1m of one-off benefits (grants, business rates deductions) which are not expected to be repeated. Both Tops and Aspire performing well above budget. However EBITDA is down £0.2m against pre covid levels, due to the ongoing Covid economic effect, wage pressures, and additional roles to support both growth and quality.
The performance of EBITDA v budget impacts the all-staff bonus scheme and whilst currently above budget, we have seen fee income start to fall significantly behind budget and EBITDA results that are lower than budget in the last few months. To avoid the gains we have already made being lost, we need to improve occupancy within Tops in line with the original budget growth projections, and continue to control costs as well you have been to date.
We stepped in to keep 2 pre-schools open this quarter, one at Gillingham and another at Yeovil, both only accept 2-year-olds and above and are open term time only, and school hours plus a breakfast club. We are rebranding these as “Topsie” to differentiate them from our much longer opening hours, nurseries that accept babies and toddlers. We are considering offering another one in Lymington in the Guide Hall that we rented while Lymington had toilets built inside and an office built over the summer
The new staff minorities groups are becoming more established now with some real actions being brought forward from them to the Board and Operations for actioning, such as a new induction course developed by the BIE Group called, “Tops and Aspire Cultural Allyship.” The course’s aim and purpose are to showcase Tops and Aspire’s celebrated diversity and inclusion, and to accelerate the feeling of ‘belonging’ for new colleagues. The course also provides information on the support networks available to them on day one and new resources being shared. Minutes of the meetings can be seen on the colleague page on our website. Please do not hesitate to contact the organisers if you are interested in attending the zoom meetings and making your voice heard on behalf of any minority group.
MITEY (Men in Early Years) led by Simon Evans, Senior Nursery Manager at email@example.com
BIE (Building Inclusive Environments) led by Micah Faure, Legal Director at Micah.Faure@topsandaspirecareers.co.uk
LGTBQ+ led by Simon Evans, Senior Nursery Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) led by Zoe Short, Compliance Manager
All nurseries and departments are now planning their Christmas and Awards Night celebrations on December 4th (combined this year), please do ask your manager what is planned and when, as the company is making a considerable contribution to this, and we definitely want you all to have some fun.
Our early years’ sustainability charity GECCO finally received £850 in commission for Cheryl’s book, “Creating an eco-friendly early year setting” which is great and this will be invested in the website where we share information on sustainability with other early years professionals.
Children’s garments: we are very pleased to have sourced children’s sweatshirts, they will be available initially in 2 sizes, age 3-4 and 5-6 in dark green and grey. We have arranged for a small amount to be delivered to each nursery to enable parents to purchase them directly from the nursery. We hope you love them as much as we do!
Aspire Training Team had 349 active learners as of September 2021, either on an Apprenticeship, Loan, privately funded, or Study Programme. 46 people completed their qualifications between June and September 2021, 19 at Tops and 27 External sites, a magnificent contribution to our communities, and Aspire have never done better than they’re doing now – congratulations to the Aspire Training Team!
We employ over 750 people, with 40 colleagues going through the onboarding process, retaining three-quarters of the workforce since January 2021, and despite Covid-19, our company sick absence remains low at 4%. Everyone earns at least national minimum wage, and those on zero-hours contracts are on them by choice to suit their work/life balance. From over 250 interviews conducted across the company since the start of the year, over 130 job offers have been made, and 32 colleagues promoted.
We are excited at the government announcement at their party conference of an increase in NMW from April and will share what this means for colleagues as soon as any details are published. The government has also quadrupled the funding improvement next year and for the next 2 years so we are optimistic that Tops will remain sustainable as a result, although we need still better increases from the government and less top-slicing from local authorities in order to significantly improve staff wages further, as we want to!
Training, and I am working with the APPG (MPs) to highlight this need going forward.
We are supporting 189 colleagues across the business to complete further qualifications ranging from L2 – L6. Over 50% of our colleagues are currently working towards a qualification or short course to further their professional development.
We currently have 28 of our childcare colleagues receiving additional training and mentoring through our management training programs, with 2 colleagues successfully completing the programme YTD.
We are delighted to have 17 graduates working across Tops Day Nurseries with a further 21 individuals who are working towards their L5 or a full degree.
Year to date we have also issued over 2000 certificates for Tops short courses and over 14,000 for IHASCO short courses, with an average score of 92%, well-done everyone!
The colleague trust has provided funds to 27 colleagues, giving a total of £9246.90 to support with crises at home such as rent/mortgage arrears, car repairs, legal fees, moving house, food, furniture, and additional counseling sessions. We wouldn’t be able to offer this level of support without your donation of 50p per month so a huge thank you from the board of trustees. It is lovely to be able to help our colleagues when they find themselves in difficulty.
Our menu going vegetarian will have considerably reduced our carbon footprint, the figures will provide more detail in due course! Pete and his catering team have been terrific. With COP26 on now in Glasgow, we are proud to be at the forefront of nurseries doing their best to limit the impact on our children’s futures from being affected negatively by climate change.
We now have 23 electric vehicles in the company which has been brilliant given the current fuel shortages and increases in pump prices. If anyone is interested in discussing buying or leasing an EV, please do not hesitate to contact Jeff on email@example.com and please see your work site travel plan for help with cycling to work, electric bikes, buying season tickets on public transport, or sharing travel to see if we/you can continue to reduce our carbon footprint and save money at the same time. If your cycle park is not good enough (maybe not sheltered, not secure, or not enough parks), please ensure any jobs needed go onto Alto for the maintenance team to put right asap.
Work at the new nursery at Bearwood Opened for staff on November 1st and is preparing to offer show rounds pending Ofsted Registration. As mentioned in the last newsletter, the laundry hub there will collect and return washable nappies from the nearest 13 nurseries in preparation for providing only washable nappies to our toddlers and babies. It’s due to be up and running by the end of November so more will be shared then! If this is successful, another hub at Tops Southsea and another at Stonehouse is on the cards. This will save parents money and reduce our waste bill as well as being much better for the planet than one-use plastic nappies. This will also make us market leaders in the field.
Health and Safety: The health and safety team have conducted 26 Fire Risk assessments and 13 Health and Safety audits so far this year. The team will continue to support the nurseries through COVID 19, reducing restrictions as and when it is safe to do so, our aim is always to provide a safe environment for our colleagues and children.
Front Door Challenge Competition
We have seen so many wonderful and innovative entries to our Front Door Challenge. Thank you all so much for all your hard work transforming what often is the first impression a new colleague or parent/visitor sees when they visit us. I will be announcing the winning setting on Thursday 10th November at the nursery managers’ meeting, once announced we will share the news in our colleague Facebook Group along with some photographs!
Thank you again, for your continued hard work and efforts, Covid has certainly been a marathon effort for everyone.