Child's play for pubs founder

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The Independent Online
THE ENTREPRENEUR who built up the Tom Cobleigh chain of pubs before selling them is attempting to repeat the trick - this time with children's nurseries.

Derek Mapp is to take over next month as executive chairman of Leapfrog Limited, which plans to build 60 purpose-built nurseries around the country.

The nurseries, each of which will have room for just over 100 children, will cater for ages from three-months to five years. They will also offer before and after-school clubs for older children.

Mr Mapp is the non-executive chairman of Tom Cobleigh, the pub business he founded in 1992 and sold five years later to Rank, the leisure group, for pounds 120m.

He says the nurseries, which will be built according to one of four possible designs, will be "state of the art". Mr Mapp says the management have been working on the idea for almost 18 months, although he accepts that the plans received a welcome boost from Gordon Brown's provisions for childcare in last month's Budget.

The venture is being financed by pounds 29m of venture capital and debt, provided by private equity group European Acquisition Capital and Bank of Scotland.