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KidiCorp builds on rapid growth

Media Release

8 August 2005

KidiCorp builds on rapid growth

While the rapid growth of KidiCorp has placed the company well for the future, the termination of the contract with Peppercorn Management and its new owners, was a salutary lesson for the early childhood education provider.

The company recorded an operating loss in the year to 31 March 2005 of $746,920, with an estimated $550,000 attributed to the short-term nature of the Peppercorn management contract. KidiCorp's annual general meeting is to be held in Auckland on 16 August1.

Shortly after being appointed to provide operational management of KidiCorp centres, Peppercorn was the subject of a takeover by ABC Learning Centres, an Australian company listed on the ASX. ABC also operates its own centres in New Zealand, posing a conflict of interest and causing the management contract to be terminated by KidiCorp.

KidiCorp has since re-established its administration management structure in Tauranga and has employed New Zealand-based Peppercorn staff, providing continuity to the growing company and its 65 centres.

KidiCorp executive director, Wayne Wright, said much has been achieved in consolidating the group's activities including continuing infrastructure development, integrating new centres into the organisation and investing in a redevelopment and refurbishment programme.

Centre occupancy had increased from 70 percent in March 2003 to 85 percent in the first three months of the new financial year.

Mr Wright said KidiCorp had also successfully concluded negotiations to provide management to 22 early learning centres owned by the First Steps Childcare Trust.

"The trust is a community-based provider established in 1990. It is licenced for 1,055 children and is expanding. Income from management of these centres will be reflected in the 2005/06 financial results," said Mr Wright.

KidiCorp's investment in staff training over the last two years means that the company now has nearly 40 percent of its teaching staff either fully or provisionally registered. Mr Wright is confident KidiCorp will exceed the Ministry of Education's target for 50 percent of all teachers to be fully or provisionally registered by 2007.

In order to meet government objectives, KidiCorp has designed and is operating a programme to assist qualified KidiCorp teachers obtain teacher registration. KidiCorp also financially assists employees to obtain qualifications in early childhood education.

"Securing and retaining qualified and experienced teachers will however continue to be a challenge for the sector, as competing centres continue to outbid each other in an attempt to secure sufficient qualified teachers to meet the minimum government requirements in respect of teaching staff," said Mr Wright.

Early childhood education continues to be a government priority with increased financial assistance to the sector, including a recent budget announcement of a further $95 million over the next four years.

Mr Wright also said Victoria Carter, recently appointed as a director to fill a casual vacancy, had indicated she wished to stand for re-election. An Auckland City Councillor for six years, she has a decade-long involvement with the Auckland Kindergarten Association and is a director with several private companies.

"We are confident shareholders will welcome Victoria's extensive experience in the sector in which KidiCorp operates and will confirm her appointment.

"With 177 million shares held by almost 980 shareholders and a market capitalistion of almost $26 million, KidiCorp has come a long way since it listed in March 2003.

"There is a growing need for, and recognition of, the benefits of quality early childhood education among parents and education officials. With much of the groundwork completed, KidiCorp is poised for an exciting future," said Mr Wright.

ENDS

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