An educational recruitment business said it is destined to become a firm with a £10m turnover within five years after signing a landmark deal with a Malaysian conglomerate to supply thousands of teachers to Asia.
STC Consortium chief executive Susan Moore intends to significantly grow her business after signing a Collaboration Agreement with Melewar Group of Malaysia.
The Gateshead company will recruit and supply English teachers over the next five years to schools, colleges and universities in 14 Asian countries.
The company has been supplying teachers around the UK since it was established in 2002 but began exploring overseas markets when local authority budget cuts resulted in fewer supply teacher requests, which put a squeeze on profits.
With support from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the British High Commission Kuala Lumpur, a trip to Malaysia was organised in March.
Those meetings resulted in the groundwork for the agreement with Melewar Group, which has diverse interests in areas including education and training, steel manufacturing, engineering and real estate.
Meetings with the Malaysian group, run by group chief executive Tunku Dato Seri Iskandar Tunku Abdullah, a member of the Malaysian royal family, culminated in last week’s official signing of the agreement in Kuala Lumpur.
STC will supply teachers in countries including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
The company’s sales are about £1m but government cuts have reduced profits to about £50,000. However, within five years Moore expects turnover to top £10m and pre-tax profits to soar to £8m.
“And that’s a conservative estimate,” said Moore.
“It’s all about relative numbers and our biggest overhead has been staffing but this is different because we won’t deal with pay or National Insurance – we get paid an introduction fee for each teacher.
“In the UK, budget cuts within the public sector at the moment mean we’ve just stayed put as costs have gone up, which is why our profits have gone down, so the only way to grow us is to go international.
“It’s overwhelming what we have achieved. We didn’t expect to come back with this language deal – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and especially good news for a little old North East company.”
“We have also opened an office in Kuala Lumpur. Before the agreement we had five members of staff but we have recruited someone who will run that office overlooking the Petronas Towers, and have just employed two members of staff to start on our international desk. As it takes off we’ll probably need to take more people on.
“This is not just a fantastic achievement for STC but we also expect to provide many out-of-work teachers, both TEFL and mainstream, with opportunities in South East Asia.”
John Doolan, international trade adviser with UKTI, added: “This shows what can be achieved with effort and planning.
“STC is a very driven, professional business that was well prepared when we went to Kuala Lumpur, so this shows that so long as you do it right the opportunities are out there.”