Berkhamsted Nursery Chain Solving the Franchising Puzzle

Living Magazines Monkey Puzzle nurseries

A Berkhamsted-based nursery business has grown from humble roots to become the largest childcare franchise in the UK, collecting accolades along the way.

Since its foundation in 2006, Mark and Rebecca Crosby’s childcare franchise Monkey Puzzle has become the largest nursery franchise in the UK, and the fifth largest childcare provider in the country. The chain has 70 nurseries spanning the length and breadth of the UK, including two in St Albans and one in Ware, and recently had three nurseries included in the UKs Top 20.

Rebecca, Group Operations Director, is keen to point out the benefits of franchising for people looking to start their own business with reduced risk: ‘Opening a nursery is a bit of a minefield, but through the franchise we’re able to deliver a comprehensive training process that takes new business owners right through every step of the journey. We’re passionate about people building the business with us.’

The Crosbys were supported throughout their own journey by NatWest’s franchising team, who provide advice, funding and support to entrepreneurs seeking to franchise their existing business, or to become a franchisee themselves. Rebecca recalls: ‘NatWest were very flexible about providing funding – they’ve grown with us, and the support we’ve had from them has been invaluable in growing the business.’

The chain prides itself on its large, bright open plan rooms, creative outdoor play areas, and a variety of modern equipment which provides children with a stimulating environment in which to thrive.

NatWest is a key UK backer of women in business, with recently appointed CEO Alison Rose co-authoring the Rose Review into Female Entrepreneurship in partnership with HM Treasury, and Rebecca is keen to point out how franchising presents another avenue for women who want to start their own business, citing the benefits it brings for networks and family responsibilities. Rebecca says, ‘Franchising is a fantastic option for women looking to start a business. It’s an opportunity to get into partnership with people who understand what you want to achieve, and to build a team and a network from the ground up. In the childcare sector in particular it gives you the opportunity to have your family with you in the business, which is exactly what we did.’

The NatWest Franchises team will appear at the annual Women in Business Expo, taking place at Farnborough International Exhibition Centre on 16-17 October. Customers interested in finding out more about how to start their own franchise business can find out more at