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Real Experience Group buys Dublin school for €1m

Ireland-based investment firm, Real Experience Group, has acquired ECM college in Dublin in a deal valued at more than €1m.

The college will come under The English Studio branding from late February. Photo: ECM.

ECM college, founded in 2010, will be brought into The English Studio branding from late February

The move marks the second acquisition in the English language sector for the group, owned by Lioncourt Investments, after it bought The English Studio in London last May.

ECM college, founded in 2010, will be brought into The English Studio branding from late February but will remain under the direction of co-founder Eddie O’Loughlin.

Last year ECM enroled about 900 students and, according to the Irish Times, increased its turnover from around €200,000 in 2010 to €2.5m in 2015.

The group, owned by Lioncourt Investments, bought The English Studio in London last May

Neil Harvey, managing director of The English Studio, said ECM’s student volume aligns with the group’s business model of scaling to accommodate a large number of students.

“It’s the natural fit. We’re looking at the same proposition: strong academics, a very democratic price point, accessibility, and a similar type of student make up,” he told The PIE News.

The English Studio London has some 800 students enrolled at the moment and caters for around 6,000 students annually. Harvey said that the acquisition will enable The English Studio to continue offering low-cost English language courses.

“Things are changing,” he said. “There’s a growing demand from students and agents for exactly that price point in the market, and there are other areas we are looking at, for example, pathways into higher education where supply has been for the well-heeled. That’s another product range we can try to alter in our small easyJet way.”

“There are other areas we are looking at, for example, pathways into higher education where supply has been for the well-heeled”

O’Loughlin said the deal is a positive step for ECM and he expects the coming years to be the most successful for the school. “Being part of a big group gives us the finances and backup to exploit the opportunities that a college in Ireland has,” he said.

The agreement includes the English language school as well as the teacher training centre launched last year.

In addition to growing numbers at both centres, Harvey added that ECM’s pending EAQUALS accreditation is something the group would like to implement in its London centre.

Formerly known as the Kinlay Group, Real Experience also owns online TEFL course platform i-to-i; online teacher training programme Love TEFL; USIT, an internship and volunteer search platform in Ireland; and Budget School & Group Tours in Ireland.

Managing director for education, Mark Bush, confirmed the group is looking to further expand operations in the English language school sector.

“We are looking at a number of opportunities in the UK, in Ireland and we’re looking at opportunities in North America so the intention would be at least one more acquisition in the coming year,” he said.

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