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UK: Experience English acquired by English Studio owners

A four-strong chain of UK-based English language schools, Experience English, has been acquired by the Real Experience Group, which also owns low-cost brand, The English Studio.

"Our focus is very clearly on language travel and education as we grow this division"

According to Mark Bush, MD education at The Real Experience Group, the brands will trade alongside one another as each appeals to a different student demographic.

“We believe the Experience English brand is growing in strength and has resonance with the market”

Bush told The PIE News, “We believe the Experience English brand is growing in strength and has resonance with the market; the heritage of schools in the group such as the Hampstead School of English has been well preserved.”

The Real Experience Group is keen to further expand its language teaching interests and Bush said growth plans include further acquisitions or opening “new organic schools”.

Experience English had been owned by TUI since 2010 when it acquired four separate schools and rebranded them as a group. The schools are in York, Manchester, London (Hampstead) and Edinburgh.

The English Studio, which has schools in Dublin and London, offers a lower price point and gets a high percentage of its business via direct bookings and walk-ins. Its MD Neil Harvey, spoke to The PIE News last year about its distinct positioning in the marketplace.

The Real Experience Group is based in Dublin, Ireland and also owns six other brands in the youth travel sector, including student travel agency USIT and TEFL travel company i-to-i.

Bush said that while the education division of the company benefitted from wider expertise in student welfare, young learner operations and back office functions such as IT because of the wider group interests, the education division was a stand-alone division with a definite focus of its own.

“These are helpful sister companies to have, but our focus is very clearly on language travel and education as we grow this division,” he said, adding that agent reaction to the acquisition news had been “very positive”.

The acquisition means that travel giant TUI is no longer operating in the language teaching space. TUI’s decision to move into educational travel saw the acquisition and formation of Experience English (from 2009/2010), as well as the acquisition of junior brand EAC, which ceased trading in 2013.

In associated news, one of the original owners of junior brand EAC, Andrew Fisher, has since sold his subsequent junior vacation business, Oscars International. The deal completed in December 2015; the new owners told The PIE News that they will be making an announcement in June.

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