Monday, 8 February 2016

The French company, Babilou Group, announces the opening of Babilou Dubai

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December 14th 2015

What is the Babilou business model? How does it work?
We are the experts and leaders of corporate nurseries.
In France, where Babilou was founded in 2003, a Fund for Family Allowances (CAF) was created to help families co-finance their early education fees by making employers and the State contribute to a significant level. At the same time, it has set up a very successful 50% tax credit to encourage companies to sign up for this program and book nursery places for their employees. These measures are definitely the reason why the corporate market is so much advanced in France.
Babilou saw an opportunity in corporate nurseries and today, the group has more than 600 corporate clients among them companies from the public and the private sectors such as L’Oréal, Société Générale, Renault, IBM, Hermes, Dior, Coca Cola Enterprise, etc.
Our expertise is based on our ability to conduct a thorough due diligence of the needs of a company and its employees. Accordingly, our team of architects designs and builds a nursery or a network of nurseries which answers these needs. The objective is to offer a certain flexibility to employees whether they want to have a nursery place next to their house, at work or on the dwelling. Finally, we ensure the management and operations of the corporate nursery and we handle the family relationship. The company, on the other hand, creates a powerful tool to increase employees’ performance and loyalty.  
In the UAE, the business model is more of a BtoC model where we establish our nurseries in key locations to offer a high quality service to the neighbouring residents and employees. The corporate nursery market is not yet developed but we are definitely looking into bringing our expertise to the region.

How did the concept of Babilou come about?
Rodolphe and Edouard Carle, our co-founders, were ambitious and visionary.
Their first Babilou nursery was 100% private and did not benefit from any state contribution, which meant high fees for the parents. They understood that this would not allow them to scale up their offer quickly as their primary objective was to enlarge the access to nurseries.
Thus, they worked on a subsidised model in which families pay according to their revenues. It became hugely popular.
On the other hand, as parents themselves, they had the ambition to build a nursery which would be a second home for children and parents. They created a truly child friendly concept while implementing the highest standards of hygiene safety and security. Every detail is carefully designed, our age appropriate furniture and toys are selected and arranged meticulously. We call them our Babilou Signature Nurseries.

Why is the company expanding?
Expansion makes good business sense for Babilou. It opens the doors to building value in the business for our families and our employees. In October 2015, we’ve had our first international transfer: one of our families moved from Paris to Dubai and Babilou accompanied them. It is very rewarding.
Ultimately, building a network of nurseries today means expanding internationally and becoming a recognized worldwide early childcare leader.
It also allows us to learn and diversify to extend our offer and cater to different cultures and nationalities.

Why the Middle East?
The Middle East represents a great market opportunity in many ways.
First of all, there are more and more working women and bi-active couples. Let’s not forget that working women in the UAE, for example, are the most active in the world and are increasingly career-oriented.
At the same time, parents only want the best for their children. They have high expectations for them and look for high quality nurseries; this is where Babilou can make a difference.
Moreover, the Middle East is a great laboratory: huge melting-pot of cultures and nationalities where we can learn and diversify.
Dubai more specifically has lots of potential. The Middle Eastern HQ of all big multinationals are located in Dubai and the Emirate has one of the most cosmopolitan populations in the world.

What kind of training or support do nursery owners get?
Babilou Group owns all Babilou Nurseries. In terms of training, the Nursery directors for example, receive a 2 months training at the headquarters including an introduction to all Babilou softwares and processes. They are coached by coordinators whose job is to monitor a dozen of Nurseries in terms of hygiene, pedagogy, team management etc.
In the UAE, the team is trained by our Local Relevancy Director and by Babilou trainers who travel there regularly to coach the team on the ground. Our Babilou Umm Suqeim Signature Nursery set to open in January 2016, will have a training center for our UAE staff.

What is the largest contributing factor to Babilou’s success?
Quality. It is one of our 5 values. Hence our ISO 9001 certification.
The competencies and motivation of our teams.
The great ambitions of our Founders, the Carle brothers, with their innovative and entrepreneurial mindset.
Strong financial partners who supports in our international expansion and M&A opportunities.

What challenges did Babilou face when coming into the GCC region, if any?
Recruiting and finding talents was a challenge especially that we only hire qualified nursery staff.
Adapting to the local administrative processes was also quite challenging at first.
For all these reasons, we set up our company in Dubai in 2014 and took the necessary time to understand the market before launching the First Signature Nursery, Babilou Downtown, in November 2015.

Finding and recruiting talent was a challenge - how sis  
Babilou overcome this and how did they find the right people?
Despite the challenging recruitment process, we have managed to hire a team of highly qualified people. The candidates go through several interviews between the Head office in Dubai and the HQ in Paris to make sure they fulfill all requirements.

He also mentions that adapting to the local administrative processes was a
challenge - why? What were the challenges and how did they overcome them?
Entering a new market is always a challenge when it comes to understanding the rules and regulations, especially in our industry. We work in a very delicate business given the nature of the service we provide. Regardless of the market, the only way to move forward is to do our due diligence and get in touch with the relevant authorities.

How did Babilou do their market research? How sis the company go about finding the right location for the nurseries?
We work with the best partners in all areas of the business, including finding the right locations or doing our market research. We applied the same best of class process we follow when entering a new market.

How did they set up the business in Dubai - are they operating through the
free zones or with an Emirati partner?
We set up our regional MENA office in DIFC, Dubai because it a great business hub to cover the region. We also have a company and an office in the local market in Dubai

Babilou is operating in an increasingly busy sector - how do they differentiate?
First of all our history and expertise. As a European leader in the childcare industry, we have a proven track record and extensive experience in caring for children, believing in the importance of qualified care in a warm, safe and creative environment that is a second home. Through the past 13 years we have reached a high level of quality and standards. For example, we do not have wifi nor microwaves in our Nurseries. We only use the best products from the kitchen devices to the floor.
Moreover, all our staff, from the educators to the nursery managers, is all fully qualified with relevant professional experience. We do not have any nannies or babysitters in our Nurseries. Our educators are hands on and care for the children throughout the day.
Our curriculum was specifically adapted and built for the region. It is currently taught in 3 languages, French, English and Arabic. It aims to enable our little ones to adapt to any school system in any country, since the vast majority of the population is expatriate and will be leaving Dubai sooner or later. We believe in play-based learning where children can discover the world and enhance their development.
Our services are designed to accommodate working parents. Hours are flexible, the fee structure as well. Our Nurseries welcome children from 10 weeks to 4 years old and only close on public holidays.
These are few examples of why snd how Babilou is different. Come visit one of our Nurseries and see for yourself!

How is Babilou working with regards to KHDA compliance?
Nurseries are regulated by the ministry of social affairs, not KHDA and we make sure we are fully compliant with their regulations.