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China: Disney English suspends operations

Disney English announced that it will be closing its 26 centres in China after 12 years of operating in the country, citing a “change in consumer preferences” exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis for the decision.

DisneyThe company's 26 centres will not be reopening after closing in January due to Covid-19. Photo: Pixabay

Disney once hoped to have 148 centres in China by 2015

Launched in Shanghai in 2008, the chain of schools was notable for incorporating Disney characters into the curriculum and was one of the larger chains of foreign-owned English language schools in China.

“More consumers are moving towards learning online”

“We have noticed a change in consumer preferences; more consumers are moving towards learning online, a trend which the global epidemic has exacerbated. Parents have many concerns about returning to face-to-face extra-curricular learning courses,” said the company in a statement.

“As you know, all the country’s Disney English centres have not been open since January 2020. After careful consideration, the company has decided not to reopen the centres.”

Disney initially had ambitious plans for the Chinese market. According to Sina, in 2010 the company had planned to open 148 schools by 2015.

Many large brands that were formerly mainstays of China’s ESL education market have been struggling over the last year, even before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Web International English shut down in late 2019, while earlier this year Wall Street English resorted to cutting staff’s salaries and enacting mass layoffs in an attempt to save money.

English language training centres in China are likely to continue to see a downturn in interest as people try to recover financially from Covid-19 and seek cheaper alternatives such as online learning.

Closed borders will further exacerbate the shortage of native English teachers, which centres use to justify higher fees.

Parents of students – Disney English targeted 2-12-year-olds – will be able to apply for refunds between June 26 and July 21.

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One Response to China: Disney English suspends operations

  1. This news is such a shame. I feel sorry for the Foreign Trainers who have lost their jobs, are in China, and are unable to leave. It’s a stressful situation. Also, for the kids who must have loved going to their Disney classes and having fun there.

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