Ahead of its AGM today, which will be held at the offices of WH Ireland at 24 Martin Lane, London EC4R 0DR at 11:00 a.m., Malvern International plc (AIM: MLVN), the global learning and skills development partner, provides the following trading update:
University Pathways deposits for the September intake of the 2021/22 academic year are currently ahead of the previous year. In light of Covid, the UK government has extended concessions around student visa rules until April 2022, which allow online studies to qualify for post-study work rights. However, with the current restrictions in place for international travel, we can reasonably expect some delays to student starts to January 2022.
The Group’s first cohort of NCUK students are due to start in September and we have appointed an academic manager, setting the foundations for growth in 2022. In addition, to support recruitment for NCUK and other areas of the business, we have made progress establishing a Chinese sales presence, developing a website and appointing our first regional sales manager, with a second to follow. Provisional bookings for English Language Training (ELT) are encouraging notwithstanding the current climate, particularly from the Middle East, and should continue to build as travel restrictions are eased. However, the timing of individual course start dates remains dependent on each nation’s approach to the reopening of its borders. A number of students quarantining in the UK upon arrival have elected to commence their language course online. Malvern’s schools are currently running at an average 20% of pre-pandemic levels, in line with management expectations. Our Brighton centre was relaunched this month leveraging existing agent relationships built up over many years in our Manchester and London centres. This approach has generated immediate results through an increase in bookings and enquiries. We believe the easing of travel restrictions is likely to be followed by a period of strong demand from students who have either delayed course starts or resume their education.
Due to anticipated international border issues, we did not budget for any summer camps in 2021, however smaller groups may be possible in August if quarantine requirements for amber countries are dropped. Pleasingly, before our plans for camps for this summer were put on hold, we received a significant number of bookings which points to a strong demand for our product. Our expectation is that this demand will return in the mid-to long-term when the border restrictions are relaxed.
Financing activities in April, along with strong cost-control measures and the expected further relaxation of border restrictions in the short- to mid-term, should provide sufficient liquidity and flexibility to allow the Company to manage through the period of any further disruption caused by Covid, and to contribute to planned growth initiatives.
The Company intends to publish its Interim Results for the six months ended 30 June 2021 in August 2021.