Tuesday, December 18, 2007

WSI looks to expand in region

Business News - Tuesday December 18, 2007


WSI looks to expand in region


Wall Street Institute Thailand (WSI), the US-based English-language school, plans to invest 150 million baht to open new English-language centres in Indonesia and Hong Kong next year.

''The company sees a great opportunity to grow in both countries, particularly in Indonesia because it has a huge population,'' said Apichai Chaiwinij, the regional marketing director of WSI.

Hong Kong is highly competitive and customer demand is different than in Thailand and Indonesia, he said. Customers in Hong Kong want advanced curriculums to use for business.

In Thailand, WSI plans to open new centres next year in the Bang Na and Min Buri areas. However, expansion depends on the political situation and demand.

Also next year, the company plans to open two new centres in Jakarta and one in Hong Kong. It would spend about 50 million baht on each centre, which would have about 700 to 1,000 square metres of space.

The main target group in Thailand and Indonesia is young professionals aged 16 to 30. The company plans to target university students and working adults aged 20 to 35, according to Mr Apichai.

The company expected to enroll 10,00 students in each country in 2008. Now WSI has five centres in Bangkok and has taught more than 16,000 students.

This year, the US headquarters appointed WSI to oversee licences in Indonesia and take over five centres from original franchisees in Hong Kong, according to Mr Apichai.

The company imports curricula from the headquarters, but uses its own management and marketing strategies. WSI's courses emphasise conversation; the tuition fee is 70,000 baht per course.

The marketing budget to invest in branding will be about 55 million baht for each country. WSI expects to generate about 700 million baht in revenue this year, up from 350 million baht last year.

Mr Apichai said that next year the English-language school will face higher competition because big players, including the AUA language Centre, the British Council Thailand and WSI, plan to launch aggressive marketing campaigns. In addition, the Britain-based English school ''English Town'' is set to enter Thailand next year, he added.

When somebody's personal life, the economy or the political situation are in a crisis, then speaking English would only help them become more competitive, he said.

''This may be one of the reasons why WSI is doing very well with young professionals and university students, regardless of how the economy performs or the political situation,'' he said.

Bangkok Post

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