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COVID-19 “tsunami” forces UK ELT closures

A new casualty of coronavirus is English Studio – with schools in Dublin and London – which has appointed provisional liquidators following a “tsunami of effects” related to the coronavirus pandemic.

A third business owned by Kinlay Group – Teach & Travel Group – continues to trade normally. Photo: The English Studio

Pre-booked customers are owed around €1.2m

English language school BLC in Bristol has also become a victim of the virus, English UK has confirmed.

English Studio was owned by Ireland-based Kinlay Group, which also owned and operated travel firm USIT Ireland – which is also going into administration.

“We have working tirelessly for the last few weeks to find a solution to save these businesses”

“Only a short few weeks ago, both USIT and the English School were trading well and we had exciting plans for the future, but the tsunami of effects related to the Covid-19 pandemic have left us with no business whatsoever and no possibility of overcoming these challenges,” David Andrews, chairman of Kinlay Group, said in a statement.

The English Studio in Ireland had closed two weeks ago, complying with measures introduced to stem the spread of coronavirus, and its UK school closed on Friday 20 March.

Earlier this month, BLC – based in Bristol in the south west of England – moved all of its classes online, before also ceasing trading.

A third business owned by Kinlay Group – Teach & Travel Group – which provides online TEFL training, continues to trade normally and is unaffected by the decision, the group added.

“We have working tirelessly for the last few weeks to find a solution to save these businesses and in that regard I wish to acknowledge the support of our bankers, Ulster Bank Limited,” Andrews added.

“I and my fellow directors greatly regret having to take this step, but unfortunately, it was the only possible option at this time. We are committed to working closely with the liquidator now in order to get the best possible outcome for employees and customers.”

RTÉ reported that the collapse was caused by a cash flow crisis leaving the companies insolvent and unable to pay debts. Pre-booked customers are owed around €1.2m, it said, which includes approximately 3,000 students who paid deposits of €300 or more for travel to the US this summer.

English Studio managing director, James Birrell, said the “inability to trade or operate over an undefined period and irreparable damage to the junior summer schools as a result of the current Covid-19 pandemic were of overwhelming financial impact to the organisation”.

Together with language school associations, English UK and MEI, management will “facilitate the continued learning of students currently enrolled at the schools via emergency student support schemes”, he added.

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