Free Bird Institute feels COVID-19 pinch on bottom line

Free Bird Institute Ltd. Picture: FT FILE

Nadi-based Free Bird Institute Ltd (FBL) has reported an 11 per cent drop in revenue for the first quarter of 2020 in comparison to the same period last year.

FBL is listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPX) and released its unaudited financial results this week, revealing a total turnover decline from $1.3million in quarter one of 2019 to $1.1m in the same quarter this year.

“This was a result of the travel restrictions placed by the Fiji Government earlier to travellers from China and South Korea and later to the rest of the world as a protective measure aimed at reducing and containing the spread of COVID-19 in Fiji,” said FBL chief financial officer Waisale Iowane in a company announcement filed at SPX.

“In response to this, management has since effectively put in place measures to ensure that operating expenses for the business are prudently managed during this period and where necessary, appropriate actions have been taken gradually such as the reduction of human resources, salary cuts, reduced hours and the likes,” Mr Iowane said.

Founded in Nadi in 2004 by Japanese businessman and investor in Fiji Hiroshi Taniguchi, FBL is recognised by the Ministry of Education and sources a majority of its students from Japan.

The crippled international travel market has, therefore, impacted its core business.

Mr Iowane said the school had provided alternative learning mode to students who remained in Fiji and continued to provide support to both their students and employees in the best way possible.

“Given the uncertainty of the situations surrounding this pandemic, management is unable to ascertain the extent of the impact of COVID-19 on the business. However, one thing for certain is that we need to continue to change our business and revenue models to align with the current business landscape.”

FBL, Mr Iowane added, was also closely following the advice and updates of the governments and other relevant stakeholders.

“In the meantime, we must continue to keep ourselves and our families safe during this time and look forward to coming out of this situation with the least amount of bruises on the business.”

FBL listed on SPX in 2017.

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