JOHANNESBURG - Private education group Stadio Holdings has said its growth projections remained on track despite facing mounting challenges as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The group said it had set itself a target of 56 000 students by 2026. Chief executive Chris Vorster said Stadio needed to grow its learner base at least 8 percent each year in order to reach its goal.
Voster said while the group achieved a 10 percent increase during the first half of the financial year, Covid-19 forced it to reconsider some of its capital expenditure programmes.
“We decided to freeze all new uncommitted staff appointments, as well as freezing all uncommitted capital expenditures during the rest of the year,” Vorster said.
Studio, an investment holding company, which was unbundled from Curro in 2017 and listed separately on the JSE, saw its learner numbers increasing 7 percent to 31 869 at the end of December.
The group has ambitions of growing its student numbers to 100 000 on demand in the higher education sector. Its brands consist of Stadio (formerly called Embury Institute), Lisof, Southern Business School (SBS), Afda and Milpark. Voster said Stadio had identified greenfield expansion opportunities to develop multifaculty campuses that could accommodate between 3 000 and 5 000 students in strategic locations.
“The construction of the Stadio Centurion site was 40 percent complete and previously we anticipated opening it in January 2021, while Stadio Durbanville was anticipated to be opened in 2022.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has made us rethink and possibly shift the opening of these facilities to a later stage,” Vorster said. In February, Stadio told its shareholders in a trading guidance that it expected its core headline earnings per share to increase between 4 percent and 24 percent in the six months to end June. Vorster said collections in the first half of the year rose compared to last year, despite the Covid-19 disruptions.
“Collections have been good in the first half, maybe we will experience challenges in the second half as the country experiences more job losses going forward,” Vorster said.
He added that there were no disruptions in its academic programme as 80 percent of its students were distance-learning students. “Our academic teams from all our brands took initiative and implemented plans to ensure that all our students complete their 2020 academic year when the lockdown was announced at the end of March. “We are fortunate to have a brand like Afda, whereby assessments are production-based, while the distance learning in our group has helped us to weather the Covid-19 storm,” he said.
Stadio rose 0.63 percent on the JSE on Friday to close at R1.60.