The opposition speaks
Chris van der Merwe, the chief executive of Advtech’s more popular competitor Curro, is aware of, but not concerned about, Maasdorp’s intention to accelerate growth.
Van der Merwe says 12.4 million children attend South Africa’s state, private and church schools. If Curro lives up to its promise to build 80 schools by 2020, it will accommodate just 0.79% of schoolchildren, assuming their number remains the same.
There is more than enough space for everyone, he says – the private-school market is not big enough.
Van der Merwe knows outgoing CEO Frank Thompson and says he has created a stable group. “Although people criticise it for its slow growth, I think it is a great company with lovely schools.”
He does not know Maasdorp personally but says Advtech was right to appoint someone who is not an outsider. The sector is so new there are not many people who understand “it ain’t that easy to build a few schools”. The person needs to understand everything from construction to curriculums and regulations. Maasdorp, he believes, is in a good position to do so.