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UK: Real Experience Group to acquire British Study Centres

Mark Bush (left) and Andrew Roper (right). With the acquisition, Real Experience Group will have premium language schools in seven locations in the UK.

The group also owns the low-cost, high volume brand, The English Studio, which operates schools in London and Dublin

The acquisition, for an undisclosed amount, will see the group’s Experience English brand be incorporated into the British Study Centres name.

The merging of these two entities will as a result create the UK’s largest group of premium language schools, according to a statement.

“The next step was always to try to establish a premium group”

“We feel that [British Study Centres is] a very strong brand, and differentiated brand in the market,” Mark Bush, managing director of education at Real Experience Group, told The PIE News.

“The plan is to really build on the strength of British Study Centres, combining this with the strengths of Experience English to create a group that will put us in a very good position and allow us to grow going forward.”

Once the acquisition is completed, Real Experience Group will have premium language schools in seven locations in the UK.

The group also owns the low-cost, high volume brand, The English Studio, which operates schools in London and Dublin. The acquisition of the Dublin school took place in January this year, for over €1m.

“The next step was always to try to establish a premium group,” said Bush. “And, while we recognise these aren’t the easiest times right now, we’re confident in our plans for the future.”

Bush added that the organisation will work together where it makes sense to.

“Once the work has been concluded to complete the acquisition, we will still be operating as essentially two organisations, a premium school business and a low-cost volume school business,” he said.

From a customer perspective, there will be no changes within the operations of the Experience English and British Study Centres schools as a result of the acquisition, and it will continue to be “business as usual” with the schools’ agent partners, according to Andrew Roper, managing director of British Study Centres.

“We do see in time as a group moving forward we would like to have one common system, but that’s a medium-term goal I think,” he said.

Simon Cleaver will no longer be the owner of the British Study Centres, but will work alongside the brand in a non-executive capacity, according to Roper.

“But we’re still operating as essentially two organisations, a premium school business and a low-cost volume school business”

“Simon feels that fresh investment from a new owner, allied with consolidation of BSC with another school-group is the best way to ensure the continued success of the organisation in the current market,” said Roper, adding that it was key the new owner should share the strategic goals of British Study Centres.

“[They] would have the intention and means to invest in the future and most importantly would keep the name and brand intact.”

Experience English was acquired by Real Experience Group from travel company, TUI, in April, and is made up of four schools, in Edinburgh, York, Manchester and The Hampstead School of English in London.

British Study Centres was established in the 1930s, offering correspondence courses. It later opened business schools and moved into language teaching in the 1990s. The company now has schools in Brighton, London and Oxford, as well as a number of junior vacation centres, and teacher training facilities.

“We’re very strong in teacher training,” said Roper. “We run a lot of courses for European teachers on the Erasmus programme, that’s actually booming at the moment.”

The brand is also fast expanding its online division.

Following this acquisition, Bush said growth is a focus for Real Experience Group.

“In terms of the growth, once the deal is concluded we believe we will have created a portfolio of schools which is unrivalled. British Study Centres will cover all major locations typically considered by those planning to study English in the UK and Ireland,” said Bush.

“We are exploring the possibility of adding to that, but we’re in no rush to do that.”

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