MindChamps eyes Malaysia, Australia

PREMIUM PRESCHOOL: Mr Chiem, founder and group CEO of MindChamps Preschool, with children at the preschool's branch in Paragon. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES


    Aug 22, 2014

    MindChamps eyes Malaysia, Australia

    LOCAL education firm MindChamps PreSchool plans to expand into Malaysia and Australia on the back of a new partnership with media group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).

    The company is also planning for an eventual stock market listing, according to founder and group chief executive David Chiem yesterday, although he declined to reveal when this might occur.

    SPH announced on Wednesday that it has paid about $12 million in cash for 110,000 shares in MindChamps PreSchool (Worldwide), working out to a 22 per cent stake.

    MindChamps PreSchool will open its first centre in Kuala Lumpur by the second quarter of next year, and expects to be in Australia by 2016.

    It has plans for at least 20 centres in Malaysia over three years, and hopes to set up 10 centres in Australia in its first year there, Mr Chiem said at a briefing.

    The company operates under a franchise business model which allows independent operators - or franchisees - to set up their own centres under the MindChamps brand.

    MindChamps PreSchool, launched in 2008, has 24 centres in Singapore, of which 21 are franchised.

    These include two new centres in Bukit Merah and Bedok, which are slated to open next month.

    There are also seven MindChamps Reading & Writing enrichment centres here.

    "High-quality early childhood education is in demand, especially among the new generation of parents," said Mr Chiem, an Australian citizen who has been a Singapore permanent resident for 11 years.

    The chain applies the latest research in education, psychology and neuroscience to its teaching methods.

    Mr Chiem declined to reveal the company's revenue or profit figures, and would say only that revenue has "grown strongly over the last five years" and has "surpassed industry standards".

    The company has a 32 per cent share of the premium pre-school market in Singapore, which refers to pre-schools charging at least $1,500 per month.

    The company had been approached by others keen to buy a stake, "but we were not interested", said Mr Chiem.

    The firm welcomed its new partnership, however, because "SPH has the stature and influence as a brand to help us grow beyond our little red dot to the rest of the world".

    He added that the company's focus will remain on premium pre-schools, with no plans to move into the mass market.