Alpha Plus releases its Interim Management Report and the unaudited condensed Group financial statements for the six months ended 28 February 2013.
The principal activity of the Group in the period under review continued to be the ownership and management of schools and colleges in the United Kingdom and the supply of educational services. The Group operates 12 independent schools, 2 nurseries and 5 sixth form colleges all of which, with the exception of 2 schools and 3 colleges, are based in Central London.
Review of the business and future developments
Group revenues in the six months ended 28 February 2013 were 7% higher than in the six months ended 29 February 2012 at £30.7m (2012: £28.8m) with the increase being attributable to increased fee levels, higher charges to students to cover the cost of their accommodation and increased pupil/student numbers which totalled 3,665 (2012: 3,582) at the end of the period.
Overseas student numbers, however, have declined mainly as a result of adverse publicity abroad following the Government action against London Metropolitan University which occurred at a critical time in the recruitment cycle and caused many students to opt for Australia and the US rather than the UK.
Operating expenses rose by 9% to £27.0m (£24.8m in 2012) reflecting a £0.5m increase in the cost of student accommodation, increased ICT expenditure resulting from decisions taken in the second half of the previous year and other general cost increases.
EBITDA declined by £0.2m to £3.8m (£4.0m in 2012). At a pre-tax level, the Group generated a profit of £0.2m in the period (£1.1m in 2012).
The Group’s policy has been to make strategic acquisitions where appropriate but also to “Build and Expand” the existing portfolio. Capital expenditure in the six months ended 28 February 2013 of £2.7m (£4.0m in 2012) included £1.2m in respect of the completion of a major building redevelopment project at Hilden Grange School in Tonbridge, Kent where the new buildings were officially opened on 10 November 2012.
The Group’s sixth form colleges offer a variety of courses including 18-month A-Level programmes which commence in January of each year. As a consequence the Group would expect to generate higher operating profits in the second half of each year than in the first half and the current year is expected to be no different.
Looking further forward, the Group intends to continue to look for opportunities to acquire existing schools as well as identifying sites to which the Group’s existing schools could move to increase capacity or sites where new schools could be established.
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