Summary of our market study

The French private daycare market is estimated to be worth 1.7 billion euros by 2022, with an average annual growth rate of 11.6% in terms of places offered.

The French private day nursery market has experienced strong growth in recent years, with a significant expansion in private sector offerings due to strong demand that continues to outstrip supply.

Private crèches, benefiting from both public funding schemes - PSU and PAJE - and private investment, have sought to differentiate themselves through specialized educational offerings and digitalization to attract both families and businesses.

Major players such as Les Petits Chaperons Rouges, Babilou and others are increasingly turning to European and American markets for expansion, due to strict local reand uncertain national political support, with the goal of creating 30,000 new crèches in the 2018-2022 plan.

The challenge of accessibility persists, particularly for low-income families, despite various subsidy programs. The market also faces the need to train 30,000 professionals by 2027 to meet demand for services.

The French childcare market: sustained demand and insufficient supply

The French childcare market is a dynamic and fast-growing sector, particularly in the private sector.

The number of available places has exploded, with some 90,000 places offered by private institutions. However, there remains a major imbalance between supply and demand for childcare services. This situation is further exacerbated by a gap between the types of services preferred by families and those they ultimately use, mainly due to insufficient supply. The tension is obvious, with reports suggesting a shortage of almost 200,000 crèche places by 2032.

Growth in the sector is exacerbated by national birth rates, with figures showing a slight decline. The number of new births is between 650,000 and 700,000 a year.

But falling birth rates are not significantly dampening demand for childcare services. Parents largely prefer crèches for their contribution to child development, their security and the perceived financial benefits. Over 80% of parents surveyed said they were very satisfied. However, many are turning to other solutions due to the limits of supply.

Financial interventions by the national government and the Caisse Nationale d'Allocations Familiales are aimed at strengthening the early childhood sector, but these strategies have not fully achieved the desired results, with only 10% to 20% of day nursery creation targets met. There are many reasons for this: fiscal pressure on local authorities, lack of enthusiasm for activities such as childcare, and falling school enrolment rates.

The private sector is highly responsive. Its business model relies heavily on various forms of state aid. Public subsidies help to keep operating costs in line with revenues, and maintain the narrow margin between profits and losses. This dependence on public subsidies is indicative of a delicate financial balance within the private childcare market.

The market is also showing signs of maturation, underlined by a high level of concentration, with the existence of a few dominant players who collectively hold a substantial share of the market. Expansion and diversification are particularly on the agenda for these market leaders, with international projects in other European markets as well as in America.

French nursery market players

  • Les Petits Chaperons Rouges, part of the Grandir group, is at the forefront. Grandir is extending its expertise beyond France's borders, and has made a number of acquisitions.

  • Babilou With a solid network of facilities throughout France, Babilou also stands out for its international outlook.

  • People and Baby is another major player, enriching the market with a range of services that meet the needs of modern families.

  • La Maison Bleue stands out for its adoption of innovative teaching techniques, including environmentally-friendly practices that echo society's growing concern for sustainable living.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of study

Crèches, also known as "établissements d'accueil du jeune enfant" (EAJE), are facilities for children up to the age of 6 that are not part of a family or school environment.

In France, there are several types of EAJE, depending on the nature of their managing body: association, local authority, company, etc. Private day-care centers run by companies are commercially-operated day-care centers.

There are several types of private day-care center, depending on their structure (multi-accueil day-care center, company day-care center, municipal day-care center under public-private partnership, or micro-crèche) and their type of financing (PSU, PAJE, etc.). The market is largely financed by the State via the Caisse Nationale d'Allocations Familiales (CAF).

The French market is characterized by an imbalance between supply and demand. Despite an increase in the number of places offered in recent years, the number of places available is still far from sufficient to meet national demand. The private sector in particular is booming, as it is more flexible and less costly than its public competitors. As a result, the number of places available in private day-care centers is increasing every year. As a result, the market should continue to enjoy double-digit annual growth by 2027 in terms of the number of places offered.

The French market is more mature than that of its European neighbors, and the French offer is diversifying to differentiate itself. For example, crèches with original pedagogical projects (ecological or musical) are on the rise. What's more, French nurseries are increasingly exporting their know-how abroad. The major players in the French market are finding new sources of growth and substantial outlets in European countries.

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Number of places offered by private day-care centers
  • Size of the private daycare market
  • Type of care desired at birth and used
  • Survey on the benefits of daycare for child development
  • Quality of daycare services
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Latest news

People & Baby founder ousted - 24/04/2024
  • - Christophe Durieux, founder of People & Baby, owns 80% of the group's capital.
  • - People & Baby has debts of 400 million euros.
  • - People & Baby's creditors now have 75% of the voting rights, following a decision taken at the Annual General Meeting.
Workforce shortage: private daycare centers face training headache - 15/04/2024
  • les Petits Chaperons Rouges , one of France's largest private crèche groups. Headed by a network of 850 crèches under its own name, 2,200 partner crèches and 9,000 employees, the company, which generated sales of 450 million euros in 2023
  • the early childhood sector employs 150,000 people
  • the private childcare sector, which accounts for 40% of the 480,000 crèche places in France, does its best to offer training courses to its employees and students.
Tom & Josette develop intergenerational crèches - 15/10/2023
  • Tom & Josette was founded by Astrid Parmentier and Pauline Faivre.
  • The idea came from family experience, and aims to combat the isolation of senior citizens.
  • The idea was to create micro-nurseries in retirement homes.
  • The first crèche was opened just before the second confinement in 2020.
  • Nine crèches have already been opened in nine different départements.
  • The aim is to open fifteen crèches by the end of 2023 and 100 by the end of 2025.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Grandir Groupe -Les petits chaperons rouges
Babilou Groupe
Crèche Attitude Liveli (Sodexo)
People and Baby (Holding)
La Maison Bleue
Léa et Léo
Les P'tits Babadins
Rigolo Comme La Vie
Les Petites Canailles
Tom & Josette
Croc La Vie

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