50 Geos branches will be renamed

Nagoya-based investment fund Inayoshi Capital Partners said Thursday that about 50 of its 167 Geos foreign-language school branches will be renamed Nova X Geos after November.

ICP also said it will close down about 20 Geos branches whose business areas are overlapping with those of Nova.

The company said students of those schools will be relocated to the nearby Nova schools or receive lessons via Nova’s unique video-phone system.

Subsidiary G.education Co. “made a comprehensive judgment” on the chain’s operations, ICP spokeswoman Namiko Kameyama said.

G.communication took over the operations of Geos six months ago, after the chain filed for bankruptcy with net debts of ¥7.5 billion.

The corporation purchased Nova in 2007 after that chain went bankrupt.


Retooled English school chains set to launch Nova x Geos brand

Nova x Geos, a new English conversation school brand integrating branches from the Nova and Geos chains, is scheduled to be established on Nov. 1, according to the chains’ parent firm.

Masaki Inayoshi, chairman of investment company Inayoshi Capital Partners, said Wednesday that about 50 of Geos’ 167 branches nationwide would adopt the new brand and start using Nova curriculums.

The Geos branches involved are located in neighborhoods where there is no competing Nova branch.

Inayoshi Capital said it intends to close about 20 Geos branches that do compete head-to-head with Nova branches, and also plans to integrate another 20 Geos branches with cram schools.


Language Schools Nova, Geos Get Yet Another New Owner

Restaurant operator G.communication Co. has sold its subsidiary that runs the language schools Nova and Geos to an investment fund managed by its founder and former chairman.

The Oct. 1 transaction was apparently triggered by the fact that G.communication’s parent company, Foody’s Co., has been hit hard by the recent failure of Incubator Bank of Japan. Investors to Foody’s include businesses with close ties to the bank.

G.education Co. had just taken over the operations of Geos this April after the school’s previous operator went belly up. G.education acquired Nova’s operations in 2007 following the bankruptcy filing of the school’s former operator.

G.education is now 66% owned by the investment fund, which is headed by Masaki Inayoshi.


Geos, Nova English schools change ownership once again

G.communication Co. has sold off the failed English conversation school chain Geos, which it took over in April, along with the Nova chain of English schools, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

An investment company led by Masaki Inayoshi, who formerly served as chairman of G.communication, purchased the subsidiary of the Nagoya-based firm that ran both Geos and Nova, under a contract that took effect Friday, informed sources said.

Inayoshi’s purchase of the two English school chains followed a decision by Foody’s Co., the parent of G.communication, to withdraw from the operation of Geos and Nova. The decision came in the wake of the bankruptcy on Sept. 10 of Incubator Bank of Japan, the major banking partner of Foody’s, according to the sources.

The failure of the bank gave rise to concern over Foody’s financial management. Foody’s engages mainly in extending financial and human resources backing to restaurants and related businesses, they said.

Nova has 490 locations and Geos 167.

The firm newly in charge of running the Nova and Geos schools says it expects no major problems with their operations, the sources said.


Nova, Geos now under investment fund’s wing

Nagoya-based G. communication Co. last week sold Nova Corp. and Geos Corp., two major foreign language school chains, to an investment fund.

The fund, Inayoshi Capital Partners, run by recently retired G. communication founder Masaki Inayoshi, acquired the stakes Friday by purchasing shares of G. education Co., a G. communication spokeswoman said.

Seven Geos language schools overseas, in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand, will remain G. communication subsidiaries.

“Both Nova and Geos will continue their operations, and we believe this will not affect the students,” the spokeswoman said, adding both brands will be maintained.

G. communications took over the operations of Geos just six months ago after the chain filed for bankruptcy with net debts of ¥7.5 billion.

The corporation purchased Nova in 2007 after the school chain went bankrupt.

The spokeswoman said the decision to sell off the two school chains was made because Kobe-based food and beverage distributor Hanshin Shuhan Inc. is poised to become the parent company of G. communications and wants to focus on its mainstay business.

Tokyo-based Foody’s Co. now owns a majority in G. communications but has agreed to sell its entire stake to Hanshin Shuhan.

According to the Asahi Shimbun, Foody’s is planning to sell its stake partly because of expected financial difficulties due to the recent bankruptcy of its main creditor, Incubator Bank of Japan.

Foreign-language schools have seen a decline in sales and enrollment recently.

According to the trade ministry, average monthly sales at language schools fell to ¥5.1 billion this year from ¥8.1 billion in 2007. The corresponding monthly enrollment figure decreased to 335,827 from 619,642 students.


G. Communication Sells Nova, Geos

G. communication Co. has sold all of its shares in a unit that manages English language schools Nova and Geos, officials of the Japanese diversified business group said Monday.

The shares in G. education Co. were sold on Friday to an investment company headed by G. communication founder Masaki Inayoshi for an undisclosed sum.


‘Japanese way’ costs $190,000

The boss of a multi-national English language school in Auckland has been awarded $190,000 after an employment tribunal dismissed claims he was used to being treated “the Japanese way”.

David Page was stripped of his job as regional director of GEOS New Zealand at a conference in 2008 and demoted to head of the company’s Auckland language centre.

In April last year, he was fired by email after being given “one last chance” to make the school profitable.

Page launched an unfair dismissal claim against GEOS, which comes under the umbrella of the GEOS Corporation founded by Japanese businessman Tsuneo Kusunoki.

But the company responded by claiming that Page “accepted understanding of the ‘Japanese way’ of doing business”. They went on to say he was used to Kusunoki “ranting”, “berating” and “humiliating” people “so this was nothing new”.

But the Employment Relations Authority said the company’s failings were “fundamental and profound”.

Member Denis Asher said the final warning was “an unscrupulous exploitation of the earlier, unlawful demotion”. He said: “A conclusion that the ‘Japanese way’ already experienced by Mr Page was continuing to be applied is difficult to avoid.”

Page, an Australian, started with the company as general manager for GEOS Gold Coast, Australia, in July 1999.
CCID: 31622

He moved to Auckland in March 2006, to take on the role of regional director. He was informed of his demotion at a regional conference in Thailand in November 2008.

Four months later he received a final warning that if the Auckland language centre was not in profit by the end of May his employment would be terminated.

Asher also said “an entirely unfair, unilateral process was applied” by the company in the decision to dismiss Page.

Page was awarded $55,000 for loss of income, $21,000 for hurt and humiliation, and $31,849.99 for long service leave. The total amount, including superannuation, under-payment of salary, holiday pay and bonuses came to more than $190,000.

The parent company, GEOS Corporation, went bankrupt in April owing $121 million. The New Zealand branch has been taken over by New Zealand Language Centres Limited. They refused to comment last night.


Telling the other side of the Geos story

Thank you very much for printing the story regarding the Geos bankruptcy. As a former Geos teacher, I was glad to see that you told the other side of the story, as other media had made it appear that there weren’t any problems because G.communication had taken over the company in advance. This is not true.

I chose not to sign the vague contract with the new company, for the same reasons as the teacher mentioned in the article, and because I was due to leave the company in a matter of weeks.

I had been employed with Geos for more than 10 years when they declared bankruptcy in April. I had given the required four months’ notice and was due to leave the company in May, but had offered to extend my employment to help the school as they were having trouble finding teachers.

As I was on a very old-style contract, I was due a leaving allowance of ¥1 million — which I lost — in addition to April’s salary. I have also had to fight to be allowed to stay in my apartment until the end of the month, despite the fact I had paid May’s rent directly to the landlord.

Many teachers signed the new contract as they were worried about being left homeless and visa-less with no money in a foreign country. A letter in Japanese was sent to staff who chose not to sign the contract saying that the documents required to claim the unpaid salary would be sent by May 15, and that teachers should be out of their apartments by that date. As many ex-teachers are already having to leave the country, there is no way that they will be able to make a claim.

In the school where I used to teach, the instructor who replaced me left after only a few days’ teaching, and the other teacher is due to work until only the end of May. However, the students are not being told about this when they sign and agree to continue their lessons, losing the right to a refund if they cancel their contracts. Students who do not want to continue under these conditions are being told that they will not be able to obtain a refund.

I agree with the article that the large eikaiwa school models are on their way out. In the area where I live, smaller schools that allow students to pay monthly are seeing an increase in students.

I hope that you will continue to print articles showing the other side of the story.


All shuttered Geos schools to reopen for lessons in May

G.communication Co., which has taken over collapsed English conversation school operator Geos Corp., plans to resume lessons at all Geos schools by the end of May, the company president said.

This means lessons will resume soon at 18 of the 230 Geos schools that were closed for falling behind in their rent payments and for other reasons as of Wednesday.

In an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, G.communication President Hideo Sugimoto said he hopes to return Geos to the black within a year.

“I want to record a profit in a year from now, although there still are costs that may materialize later,” he said.

G.communication also took over the Nova English conversation school when it went belly-up in 2007, but Sugimoto plans to maintain both brands.

“Geos schools have Japanese teachers and beginners may find it easier to take lessons there, whereas all Nova teachers are native speakers. Each has its own advantages and devotees,” he said.

The firm plans to maintain, for the time being, the 230 Geos schools it took over.

If some schools have difficulty resuming lessons, G.communication will help them out by renting rooms in neighboring buildings and taking other measures, Sugimoto said.