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Trading Eikaiwas and Izakayas

Like many readers here, zakzak wonders about the odd combination of restaurant companies and English conversation schools.

As you know by now, G.communication, which operates Nova and GEOS, which in turn was owned by Foodys, is now owned by Hanshin Shuhan after it acquired Foodys' 50.9% share of the company. Foodys sold its shares in G.communication in order raise money when its main bank, the Incubator Bank of Japan, was shut down by the Financial Services Agency on suspicion of obstructing an FSA audit. According a source that spoke with zakzak, Foodys sold its shares on the condition that Hanshin Shuhan assumed the loan that Foodys used to buy its stake in g.communication.

Zakzak then delves into the histories of the companies involved.

  • G.communication started out as a juku and branched off into the restaurant business in 2000. It started growing and acquiring more restaurants around 2005 through a series of mergers and acquisitions.
  • In October 2007, it took over Nova.
  • However, G.communication's mergers and acquisitions left it short of cash and its president, Masaki Inayoshi, sold his shares in October 2009.
  • The shares were sold to Foodys and Venture Link. Both companies are members of the Incubator bank of Japan's network for SMEs.
  • Foody's, being the largest shareholder in g.communication with a 50.9% share, jumped on the M&A bandwagon with G.communication only to have its plans go off the rails when the Icubator Bank was shut down.
  • Now that Hanshin Shuhan owns G.communication, it says it will continue to operate the eikaiwa business as usual.
  • Hanshin Shuhan is a liquor distributor started by its 34-year old president, Higaki Shuusaku, in 2001.
  • Hanshin Shuhan was new to the distribution business but quickly made an impact by leaving free refrigerators stuffed with drinks in offices, and then making the rounds collecting money for the drinks that had been consumed. The company raked in the money by taking a page out of the Toyama okigusuri method where medicine kits were distributed to homes and customers paid for what they used. From 2009, Hanshin Shuhan also got on the M&A bandwagon.
  • In May 2009, it acquired Gyukaku through a take over of Asrapport Dining. In April of this year, it acquired liquor distributor Daishuhan from the Japan Asia Group. It's latest acquisition is G.communication.

Zakzak asks, "Where is the money for these M&As coming from?" One of Hanshin Shuhan's major shareholders are limited investment partnerships with investment enterprise Orix #10 being mentioned. An executive in a business research firms tells zakzak that Hanshin Shuhan is more an investment company than anything else. If true, izakayas and eikaiwa make for strange bedfellows in the world of mergers and acquisitions.

Comment: When I was a kid I was really into trading hockey cards and playing games like "knock down," farthies" and "scramble." I get the sense that the same thing is being done with GEOS and Nova, except that they aren't particularly valuable--kind of like picking up some 4th-liner pylon in a game of "scramble." They are minor players in larger deals and will eventually find themselves discarded and clothes-pegged in the spokes of some unlucky investor's bicycle.

Comments

Well no shit. Japanese companies are swimming in capital. They can make silly purchases like this since they don't follow the rules of a free market.

They do not follow the rules of the free market??? Well that explains the 0% "growth" of the economy in the last 20 years and why China just surpassed it as the second largest economy in the world. Not to mention its standard of living has not changed any in the last 20 years. Yup, doing wonders for them.

So much debate, so much having a guess, but one truth remains, and that truth is the ONE thing that instructors have always failed to understand, is the business side of things. With no ambition, sitting in the gravy boat for a free ride, they have NEVER been able to see the very basics, the very basics being that EIKAIWA is a BUSINESS! Put up or shut up! If you can't put up, then do something, to contribute to the business. Promotion possibility is always there, but most lazy ass instructors just want to do as little as possible, and take home as much as possible. For crying out loud. How many times do I have to see the same thing? Get titled, or GO HOME!

Promotion possibility is always there, but most lazy ass instructors just want to do as little as possible, and take home as much as possible. For crying out loud. How many times do I have to see the same thing? Get titled, or GO HOME!

If you think promotion is a possibility you've obviously never worked for G.com/NOVA. Just a handful of people are ever promoted, usually for opaque and arbitrary reasons, and they're just as clueless and useless as regular instructors, if not more so. Who promotes these twats? Well, that would be the Japanese management, and they don't seem to understand the business side of things either.

11:31 When an organization like GEOS or NOVA is so top-down in their, meaning decisions are made through a hierarchal, sometimes dictator-like (Mr. K?) system, you can only go so far in blaming the teachers. After all, it is the idiot "managers" (glorified, second-rate, former teachers?) of these companies that do all the hiring and training...Or lac there of in regards to the training part. If a manager hires 'twat' teachers, as some have named them, then gone on not to train them properly for the classroom, isn't it the managers fault?

The reality is most of these so called managers and regional directors are in way over their heads, with no formal business education or management knowledge whatsoever. They are too busy trying to keep up with the daily tasks that they can't push the organizations forward in a professional way. Add to that many of them are insecure, god-complex having idiots and their companies are horribly organized and corrupt (mentality, legally, and morally) entities, you can see why the industry is a mess.

Yes, eikaiwa is a business and most idiot eikaiwa teachers still seem to think it is their right as a large blob of cells that happen to be lumped together and living as one entitiy to be making more than the average person, doing a worthless job because they happen to speak the "international" language.

The days of eikaiwa schools hiring full-time teachers are diminishing. Eikaiwa teaching is now becoming like a small service sector business where you use your own contacts to make business and pull in the yen. Putting all your eggs in one school's basket is more the fool for you.

Good eikaiwa teachers with good connections and reputations can still easily pull in enough money a month if they work (five or six million a year), but it takes hard work, respect and referrals.

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Short and sweet...

- Umimaa has been booted for real.
- GEOS Canada is making a HUGE push into with *cough, cough* visits to the Kingdom (SA) in October by the new head honcho in Ottawa.
- Only a quarter or so of GEOS students are extending, which means they are not overly excited about staying.
- Profits expected to drop, as expected, in September. A LOT. Those Ottawa profit numbers that someone mentioned being massaged to go positive? Yup, through prep-payment from South American group. Maybe they will report the pre-payment twice to make those profit numbers even hire!
- Profit drop expected to be about 400% at most locations in September...MINUS 400%, people...
- You heard of the "sale"/ shuffle in Japan between majority owners? Well, there is a BIGGER sale in the works but everything not in place. Stay tuned. Shawn might no something about this by now.

Next update from the inside coming soon. Cheers!

That's what I was told last night. Could be bullshit though. I hope it is not true. Any news would be appreciated.

When is Peppy Kids club, iTTTi Japan going down??

what exactly did you hear about ECC? and who from?

When is Peppy Kids club, iTTTi Japan going down??

Probably never. I've heard Peppy is on solid ground, doing very well, and getting new business. Nothing to see here, move along.

It is already bankrupt I hear, and just a matter of time before the receivers catch up with it. Consider getting, while you can.

Probably never. I've heard Peppy is on solid ground, doing very well, and getting new business. Nothing to see here, move along.

Nice try Peppy Kids stooge. According to Kuchikomi....J-staff have a turn-over ratio of 6 months or less due to steep penalties on salary if j-staff do not sign walk-ins into a contract or cannot get a student to renew. According to Kuchikomi, the students are very unhappy with the schools with compliants, such as: dirty classrooms, dirty lobby, shoddy furnishings, high pressure sales tactics, general distrust of Peppy Kids, low teacher morale, high teacher turnover, sub-standard text books, high fees and difficulty getting out of a contract or get a refund....and not to mention a rather nasty and dirty reputation amongst the Japanese public and teachers.

Peppy Kids is not on solid ground...they make money ripping teachers off, ripping off their staff and screwing over their students/clients. I would say Peppy Kids club is mired in quicksand and on its way to the bottom...where it belongs.

Just gossip, like interior fittings getting old and not being replaced. Cleaning not as up to scratch as it used to be. Mounting pressure on sales staff. Talk of cut backs. Dirty toilets etc.

Really, nothing of solid substance, but frankly, it all starts in eikaiwa, when the stain on the carpet gets ignored, and basic hygiene and cleanliness, the hallmark of what it is to be Japanese, starts getting over-looked.

ECC is probably the pick of the bunch. It will be a shame if they end up going down the gurgler too.

Any news or information would be appreciated.

Honest to God, I hope it is all just whining and moaning, and thus bullshit.

If ECC goes too, then really, that is the end of the era of eikaiwa.

It will be a shame if they end up going down the gurgler too

A shame? Why? What value has eikaiwa ever provided Japan? Eikaiwa is anathema to learning. The demise of eikaiwa would never be a shame. It would be the dawning of a new age of reason.

If ECC goes too, then really, that is the end of the era of eikaiwa

Good.

A shame? Why? What value has eikaiwa ever provided Japan? Eikaiwa is anathema to learning. The demise of eikaiwa would never be a shame. It would be the dawning of a new age of reason.

The whole Japanese education system is anathema to learning. I saw that today when I saw high school girls, presumably on some kind of work experience placement with JR, do nothing except bow to passengers go through the ticket gates and chant "o-hayo gozaimasu." Elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools, colleges, universities, jukus... they're all a massive waste of time, and eikaiwa is no better or worse than any of them. If all the English conversation schools go down the toilet you'll still be waiting a long time for your age of reason.

That’s a moronic thing to say. What about the following people:

(a) The students, who have delighted in the cultural and language exchange network provided by ECC?
(b) The teachers, who have delighted in the cultural and language exchange network provided by ECC?
(c) The Japanese and foreign managers who have dedicated their lives to interesting and stimulating teaching materials and promoting the business, so you can get a pay cheque?

I have no hesitation in saying, that if ECC did not exist, the English literacy rate in Japan would be lower, and Japan would be by far less internationalized.

ECC has strived to educate, and bring very different worlds together, and it has done so professionally, admirably, and should be commended for its efforts.

ECC has made thousands of friendships across the four corners of the world, and you say, it is what?

Have you got rocks in your head?

They are the leaders in their field, world class, and will be around for centuries to come, as the shining light, the beacon of strength and professionalism, in the field of English language education.

You, you are just a tourist, passing by, gazing with negative eyes, speaking like a know-it-all, when you obviously know nothing.

The concept of Eikaiwa is not the problem.

The problem is found in:

(a) Operators having faith that employees will behave professionally
(b) Employees behaving totally unprofessionally (usually involving either alcohol abuse or sexual harassment of clients)
(c) “b” impacting negatively on the school’s image
(d) In recent times, Union interference

Unfortunately, the demand of native speakers is so strong, and instructor turn over is so high, due in the most part the foreigners inability to adjust to a new culture, low standard instructors do get through.

How to get around this problem?

(a) Maintain and/or increase the ease by which an Operator can dismiss/fire an instructor
(b) Extension of probationary periods to 6 months or 1 or 2 years. I am personally in favor of 3 year probationary periods, at 50% pay.
(c) Greater disciplinary actions for bad instructors, such as substantial pay cut for repeat offenders, random docking of wages increased well above existing levels etc
(d) Make public examples out of repeat offender instructors – media, public posters, similar to the old fashioned “wanted dead or alive” posters, to be posted at train stations and bus stops etc.

This way, the image of eikaiwa can be protected and/or restored.

How to get around this problem?

(a) Maintain and/or increase the ease by which an Operator can dismiss/fire an instructor
(b) Extension of probationary periods to 6 months or 1 or 2 years. I am personally in favor of 3 year probationary periods, at 50% pay.
(c) Greater disciplinary actions for bad instructors, such as substantial pay cut for repeat offenders, random docking of wages increased well above existing levels etc
(d) Make public examples out of repeat offender instructors – media, public posters, similar to the old fashioned “wanted dead or alive” posters, to be posted at train stations and bus stops etc.

This way, the image of eikaiwa can be protected and/or restored.

Sounds good, if your idea of the perfect eikaiwa school is one with no teaching staff because no one wants to work there.

@10:24 Professional Mind -

Get a hold of yourself. I am sure there are some good points about ECC, but really, the becon of strength and professionalism in the field of English education. You are joking right? No eikaiwa will ever be such a thing because they cannot hold to high level teachers (let alone hire them) because the pay just isn't gainful enough for such teachers. Please do not think I am saying that teachers at ECC are horrible, but they are night the bright shinning stars you make them out to be. I agree that ECC has probably done more good than harm, but slow down. This is eikaiwa we are talking about.

@12:01 - Garth Joseph

You are absolutely insane. Do you really believe that any teacher worht a grain of salt would wait around getting paid 150,000 yen a month for 3 years in the hopes that they would one day make 300,000 a month? Only the desperate would take such a chance, thus creating a system of teachers that couldn't get higher paying jobs elsewhere because they are inferior. Further, publicly denouncing your teachers for their shortcomings and infractions is absurd. Great way to adverstise that your company was dumb enough to hire such a twat in the first place. The problem with the industry is not what happens after the teachers are hired, it is what happens before that. If the industry made it more difficult to be hired, gave higher wages, and better benefits, then maybe there waould be a stronger class of teachers coming abroad. Maybe then and olny then can you save the rep of eikaiwas.

What do you think would happen if lets say suddenly the whole G-education/GEOS project were to suddenly go tits up?

A hell of a lot of people would go "HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!", myself included.

All bets are on a christmas dimise. All those poor saps should start booking their tickets and and telling mom their gonna be home for the holidays. Geos is done and its dead weight is gonna bring down GEducation with it.

With pin point accuracy, the falling of Nova and GEOS was foretold. I predict to you now, the former directors of INTERAC, despite the try on, will not escape criminal investigation and eventual prosecution. Tick Tock, Tick Tock. It is just a matter of time............YOU CAN HIDE, BUT WE WILL FIND YOU...............

zakzak wonders about the odd combination of restaurant companies and English conversation schools.

Donald Trump is a real-estate mogul who also owns a modeling agency and runs the Miss Universe pageant. Some people might find that to be an "odd combination" too.

George Steinbrenner was a shipbuilder who also owned a professional baseball team. What do shipbuilding and baseball have to do with each other? Probably nothing. Another "odd combination"?

People, it's business. Have none of you ever taken any business or economics courses? Lots of people and corporations have a variety of business interests. Oftentimes, they have business interests that are entirely unrelated to each other.

The "evil" eikaiwa-izakaya link. Yet another thing to add on to the eikaiwa-bashing pile. If you don't like eikaiwas, then how about just don't work for one?

This is well put on the status of peppy kids club/iTTTi Japan. They're gonna probably go down the toilet just like Geos and Nova.

Is Peppy kids club still around?

No idea and don't care. No-one cares.

The only thing of importance is the all important GEOS news flashes and leaks, but the trolls put an end to that.........at least they thought they did.

2012 is going to be a big year for the leaks. A big one.

They will be released at our leisure.

No-body can stop the leaks. No-one can control what is said on here.

Not even the little one in Montreal. The leaks will continue.

The all important GEOS expose will live continue right through 2012.

We will not give in. We will stand on guard.

Drip, drip, drip, drip............

;)

I wondered how long it'd be before the GEOS NA tosspot staff and management would rear their ugly heads again on here. Didn't take long did it?

Why don't you set up your own little website - "GEOS Tosspot Managers and Staff go Hammer and Tongs at each other" - your bullshit is irrelevant on this forum and this thread.

The one good thing to come out of it though is to prove that anyone that works for GEOS NA, be they Uri Carnat, Rita Chen, or the drones "teaching" in the trenches, are a bunch of sad headcases with no lives.

Twats, the lot of you.

Is Peppy kids club still around?

They certainly appear to be - I haven't heard otherwise. Who knows what will happen when compulsory English education at elementary schools fully kicks in, though.

P.S. Anonymous @12:36 - sounds like you need incontinence pants.

All bets are on a christmas dimise. All those poor saps should start booking their tickets and and telling mom their gonna be home for the holidays. Geos is done and its dead weight is gonna bring down GEducation with it.

A year later and that doesn't appear to have happened. I think G.education pretty much shut the whole GEOS operation down, closed all the branches, fired a lot of the employees and made the students transfer to local NOVA branches. One of their few smart decisions, although if they really knew what they were doing they would completely change the pre-2008 NOVA system as well.

I agree with Shawn that they should improve English education in elementary and high schools. They should be aiming to have everyone at a good "advanced beginner" level by the end of junior high IMO, then move on to the intermediate stuff if they carry on with it at senior high.

As said, if they did that, there'd be less need and demand for crappy eikaiwa.

At present, by the time they finish JH they have already moved through preintermediate materials and then start intermediate in High. The problem, however, is that this is mostly academic test-based learning at a superficial level. In terms of real ability most students are still at a very early beginner stage when they start to work with intermediate materials. Working with materials that are too hard for them in High slows down the pace of learning further and so the vicious cycle of non-learning continues.

All the money spent on ALTs has some benefit, I'm sure, but what the ALTs are able to achieve is not enough to make a very significant difference to overall real ability levels. One of the reasons for this is that these people generally don't stay very long. They spend a year or so in Japan and then leave with a list of complaining points about the frustrations of the system but little beyond wishy washy ideas about how things should be changed. Even the ones who stay and have better ideas are locked into the existing curriculum and operate at a low level of status pretty much always no matter how much their school likes and respects them or how good their ability may be in theory.

The main answer to the problems is , of course, to SLOW DOWN and TEACH LESS BETTER, for which I would not recommend the use of more ALTs. The people to be making these changes should be long term Japanese career professionals who intend to work on improving the quality of language teaching in their country for the rest of their careers.

But before you could even start on this project, you would need a massively altered curriculum from the ministry, and much better training and professional development of the full time Japanese teaching staff. Let's face it guys, neither of these things is on the cards. THEY WON'T HAPPEN, and in the meantime, the only way that existing teachers can start to improve things is by bucking the system and swallowing lower test scores as a result. Some ballsy teachers might be willing to risk that. Most won't.

So, whilst in theory, the way forward could be to improve public education. In practice major improvements as opposed to minor tweaking are simply not happening. Therefore, I think the only way forward is through developments in private education that occur in private schools and universities. Progress here is also hampered by the test based curricula but these organisations have more flexibility as to how they go about things and more motivation to improve real results. I'm not particularly a fan of private education, but in the long run I don't see improvements coming from anywhere else. If improvements do come from that quarter, then over time there would eventually be trickle down into public education and even the cruddy eikaiwa would have to lift their game a little.

That's right, I think. Basically, they try to get through too much too quickly and having a few pansy classes in Elementary school practicing saying things like 'I have a banana." 'Do you have a banana?' isn't going to help with that very much. If they completely removed the High School sylabus and concentrated on people actually being able to use what's in the JH syllabus over a 6 year period they might get somewhere, but fat chance with that - ain't happening bro.

Another problem is the way they always leave the most diifficult shit to the end of the course. How the hell are they going to get anywhere with that stuff when they only spend a fraction of their time on it right at the end of the course? Beats me. The whole streamlined introduction of grammar thing taken in almost any course you care to look at is inherently problematic. Not just in Japanese schools - everywhere.

Anyone have any notions as to whether or not the Japanese will be studying English in ten years' time? I reckon they might shift to Chinese in light of the current economic order in the region. Well, the Japanese English teachers are very well protected by their JTU (Japanese Teachers Union), so the system would need to retread these teachers for use in other areas. Not hard to do, and they currently don't do much anyway in terms of actual English instruction.

First China would need to defeat Japan in a war, spend a decade or so running the country and then keep Okinawa as a naval base indefinitely. Then and only then, they might start training up Chinese teachers instead of English teachers. Otherwise it will never happen.

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