Pandemic sparks collapse of Liverpool language school

Liverpool School of English taught English to more than 50,000 students from 80 countries over the past two decades and turned over £5.2m year, but was ‘devastated’ by the pandemic. Tony McDonough reports

Liverpool School of English
Liverpool School of English in Mount Pleasant

 

A Liverpool language school that has taught English to more than 50,000 students over two decades has collapsed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Liverpool School of English, based on Mount Pleasant in the city centre, was teaching 5,000 students a year from around 80 countries prior to the pandemic. It had a reported annual turnover of £5.2m and employed dozens of staff.

However, the pandemic brought most international travel to a halt in 2020 and into 2021. The school did offer online classes but the over impact of the drop in travel was catastrophic for the business and it has now ceased trading and entered voluntary liquidation with the loss of 34 jobs.

Craig Povey of Begbies Traynor and Laura Walshe of Keystone Recovery have been appointed as joint liquidators of the company (The Liverpool School of English Limited) which was founded in 1999. Joint liquidators were formally appointed on July 8 to oversee the sale of assets.

“Since March 2020, the company has been adversely affected as a result of the global response to the pandemic. These measures made the business unsustainable after so many years of success,” said Mr Povey.

“The directors have explored every single avenue to keep the business going since March 2020 but ultimately the challenges presented to them by lockdown restrictions and a decision by their insurance company not to pay out on business interruption and infectious disease claims were too great to overcome.

“This is an example of a previously highly successful business being devastated by the global response to the pandemic and, regretfully, it certainly won’t be the last.”

The collapse of the school will also impact on the wider city centre economy. In an interview with LBN earlier this year, Saeed Adam, head of business development at the school, said it was his job not just to sell the services of the business but also to sell the city of Liverpool to the world.

Liverpool School of English
Liverpool School of English welcome 5,000 students a year to the city

 

Prior to the pandemic we visited 28 different countries around the world, to trade fairs, to exhibitions with bodies such as UKTI and the British Council. I would say 60% of the time we were selling Liverpool as a destination.

“English language schools for people from overseas is worth £1.4bn every year to the UK economy. Liverpool School of English alone has brought more than 50,000 people to the city over the past two decades or so. 

“If you go back 10 years, Liverpool wasn’t in the top 20 destinations for foreign students looking to learn English. Now it is around sixth or seventh. Capital of Culture really helped in 2008 as as Liverpool FC and The Beatles. Students from Japan and Brazil particularly like coming for The Beatles.”

Laura Walshe of Keystone Recovery added: “Despite the directors working tirelessly to overcome the challenges presented by lockdown, international travel restrictions, and a decision by their insurer not to pay out on a business interruption claim, these were simply insurmountable, and the company was forced to cease trading.

“The closure of this long-established business is an example of the devastation caused by the pandemic. Although restrictions are set to ease in England, this will sadly be too late for some businesses and the lasting impact of COVID-19 may be seen in relation to the most affected industries for years to come.”

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