Curro slows down new deal quest

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Odwa Mjo [email protected]­nesslive.co.za

Curro, which op­er­ates pri­vate schools and col­leges, says it plans to slow down its quest for new ven­tures in or­der to fo­cus on grow­ing its ex­ist­ing cam­puses and those yet to be launched. CEO An­dries Greyling said the com­pany will shift its capital to­wards im­prov­ing its ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion and ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tion cam­puses.

Curro, which op­er­ates pri­vate schools and col­leges, says it plans to slow down its quest for new ven­tures in or­der to fo­cus on grow­ing its ex­ist­ing cam­puses and those yet to be launched.

CEO An­dries Greyling said the com­pany will shift its capital to­wards im­prov­ing its ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion and ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tion cam­puses af­ter in­vest­ing R223m to launch five new schools in Gauteng, the West­ern Cape and Mpumalanga.

“We want to grow them to ma­tu­rity and we still have a few green­fields that we are open­ing next year. We will al­ways look for op­por­tu­ni­ties, but the bulk of our capital will be ab­sorbed within the cur­rent cam­puses, so we need to go a bit slower on green­fields just to get the cur­rent schools to ca­pac­ity,” he said.

Greyling said the new schools are part of the com­pany’s strat­egy to in­tro­duce tech­nol­ogy-driven and af­ford­able ed­u­ca­tion through its DigEd schools and acad­e­mies.

“Our big­gest growth the past year is specif­i­cally from the times, academy we ’mar­ket. re all be­ing It’s tough chal­lenged, but I be­lieve that if you pro­vide qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and you put it down at the right price and at the right place, peo­ple will sup­port you.”

Curro’s stu­dent base in­creased 13% to 57,173, push­ing the group’s rev­enue up 19% to R1.4bn as the pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion in­dus­try bat­tles a tough op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

“The big­gest chal­lenge is that we are los­ing about 3,000 learn­ers a year. We have not seen a mas­sive amount of em­i­gra­tion but it is there. The bulk of the prob­lem for us is financial rea­sons, as peo­ple can­not af­ford to pay fees,” Greyling said.

A spe­cial­ity fi­nance an­a­lyst at Av­ior Capital Markets, David Talpert, said the re­sults re­flect the state of the pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, with high-fee pri­vate schools fac­ing pres­sure from em­i­gra­tion, and par­ents tak­ing their chil­dren out of lower-fee pri­vate schools due to financial con­straints.

R223m the cost to launch five new schools in Gauteng, the West­ern Cape and Mpumalanga

13% the in­crease in Curro’s stu­dent base de­spite prob­lems of af­ford­abil­ity for some

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