Curro charges through R1bn revenue barrier

Private education provider Curro announced on Tuesday that it had broken the R1 billion interim revenue barrier in the six months to end-June. However, despite maintaining the 24% revenue growth pace set in the matching period, losses in its lower-fee school and tertiary divisions dragged profit growth down from 67% to 31%.

The 21-year-old company is divided into three divisions: the flagship Curro private school brand (headline earnings up 64% to R128 million), lower-fee school vehicle Meridian (headline earnings loss up from R4 million to 15 million) and tertiary arm Stadio (headline loss of R3 million from headline earnings of R7 million).

"Curro performed well overall, despite the seven Meridian campuses, operating in the rural lower-fee market, experiencing pressure as a result of lower learner numbers compared to the previous year. Stadio's loss was due to corporate costs incurred in establishing and operating the head office component required for its pending separation as well as acquisition-related transaction costs," the company said in its results statement.

Curro develops, acquires and manages independent schools in South Africa and also provides educator training. The ambitious company's vision is to make independent school education accessible to more learners throughout South Africa, reaching 80 schools by 2020 and accommodating 80 000 learners. Curro said it increased its number of schools by 12 to 127, its number of campuses by five to 54, and its number of learners by 3 819 to 47 002 during the six months.

The company has an excellent track record in the robust education sector, having maintained a compound growth record of 31% in pupil numbers, 48% in revenue and 83% in earnings since 2012.

The former COO of Curro, Andries Greyling, succeeded long-serving founder Dr Chris van der Merwe as CEO on 1 July and is assisted by CFO Bernardt van der Linde. A chartered accountant, Bernardt was an audit manager at PwC, before joining Finweek and the PSG Group. He joined Curro in 2009 and was appointed as CFO in 2011.