Matthew KichodhanChairman & CEO
Wave businesses faced its most challenging business year ever in 2017, on top of the lost of the Country’s beloved King in October 2016, and grieving period until His Majesty’s cremation in October 2017. The drop in consumer’s disposable income compounded by the limitations of marketing and entertainment events did not allow the Business Units to perform well. However, we reaffirm our Long Term commitment to realize our Vision to become a leading "Lifestyle and Entertainment" Company to provide our consumers with unique quality products, services, programs and entertainment to further enrich their lives. We have narrowed our interests in the Lifestyle sector to Food, and Education where we see the opportunity to tap into these growing sectors amongst teens and young adults as Thailand's middle class develops and the opportunities that AEC presents and our acquisition of Index Creative Village Public Co. Ltd. (“Index”). We believe that Wave's transformation into a “Lifestyle & Entertainment” Company offers a unique combination that will enable Wave to leverage its Entertainment and Media business to support and grow its new Lifestyle businesses.
The Wall Street English (WSE) franchise in Thailand was impacted the most with a dramatic drop in sales by 39%, as consumers cut back on spending (average contract price in 2017 was bht 82,000) and loan approval rates from banks dropped including deferred revenue which impacted financial statements. We believe the decline is temporary, and continued to invest in renovating the centers, and building 2 new Centers: Central Rama 2, and Maya in Chiangmai. These two centers are targeted to open in Q1, 2018 and are significant as Rama 2 is in a new catchment area of Bangkok, and Maya Chiangmai is our first smallest format of 130sqm, as we test out a smaller model center to be ready for expanding our Centers through franchising.
Jeffer Restaurant (Jeffer) sales dropped by 8% in 2017, but the second half trend in Sales have been positive as we adjust to more ‘value’ meals to address the Economic conditions. Jeffer opened 4 new restaurants as well as closed 7 nonperforming stores resulting in a total of 77 restaurants by end 2017.. Jeffer offers organic and regional growth opportunities for Wave to expand Jeffer's unique Value position in the Western Dine-In segment targeting teens and young adults and families as well as its infrastructure and network to leverage further new food concepts as we look to expand the Foods business. , Jeffer’s new Brand Corporate Identity with a refresh look and feel to be more consistent with the “Lifestyle” Positioning has been well received by consumers with growth in sales of renovated locations. We will begin to look for franchise partners to continue to expand the business in the future.
Index Creative Village Public Co. Ltd (“Index”), a leading Regional conglomerate group of Creative and Event organizers established over 25 years ago with a current footprint in the IndoChina countries, and now ranked 7th Agency in the World from Special Events Magazine, USA faced A challenging year in Thailand with the limitations on Events and Entertainment out of respect for the passing of the Country’s beloved King. Despite the challenges, Index manage to grow by 13% as it focused on its overseas businesses in Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as being the organizer for Thailand’s Pavilion at the World Energy Expo in Astana, Kazakhstan. Index will give Wave the scale, creative, and production capabilities in Thailand and within IndoChina as we expand our presence in the Entertainment industry.
Our investment in Thai Solar Energy Public Company (TSE) continues to be a valuable asset since its IPO. In 2016, Wave sold 10% of our TSE holdings to reduce our Long Term Debt as we prepare to lighten our liability and create more breathing room to organically expand our existing businesses as well as be more flexible in examining new opportunities. We continue to hold 10% of TSE. The market capital of TSE as of December 31th was Baht 9 Billion.
The Company continues to ensure emphasis on Good Corporate Governance improving the score from 90% to 91% and maintaining an “Excellent” rating in the Corporate Governance Report of Thai Listed Companies in 2017 from the Thai Institute of Directors (IOD), supported by the Stock Exchange of Thailand, as well as maintaining an “Excellent 100% rating from the Thai Investors Association in their assessment of our Annual General Meeting in 2017. We will strive to continue to improve/maintain our standing and rating in Good Corporate Governance in the upcoming year.
We look forward to a recovery of our businesses in the year ahead, and to continue transforming Wave into a leading “Lifestyle and Entertainment” Company with further opportunities to expand organically and through franchising to realize the opportunities and growth in Thailand and AEC Region in our 3 Business Units of Food, Education & Entertainment. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like thank our shareholders, investors, customers, strategic partners, government agencies, and our employees for their continual support and confidence in the Company.