Matthew KichodhanChairman & CEO
We continue to consolidate Wave businesses in 2021 with the overall aim to reduce our Total Debt burden, and reset the Group’s business on a more sustainable financial path given the scale of our businesses, and the current Economic situation. We have reduced our Total Interest Bearing Debt from Baht 1.8 billion to Baht 0.3 billion over the past 7 years.
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 still believe that the Lifestyle sector to Food, and Education still have growth opportunities tapping into teens and young adults as Thailand's middle class develops and the opportunities that AEC presents. 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. However, given the current Economic situation and taking into account changes in the market, we have begun to review our businesses to reset and refocus our efforts on areas of strength, and opportunities where we can grow profitability and with scale into the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic and countermeasures issued by the Thai government have resulted in temporary closures and limited business operations through the year which impacted group’s top line significantly. Nevertheless, the Wall Street English business managed to reduce its cost and expenses and, as result, EBITDA turned positive at 7%. We plan to refurnish and relocate centers in Seacon and Fashion Island and also open our second up-country WSE franchisee in Udon Thani and Cambodia in 2022 as part of our growth model for the WSE business.
Jeffer Restaurant sales declined significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic impact. We continue to consolidate our stores to strengthen the overall total portfolio. Nonperforming stores were closed, resulting in the net drop in stores number from 47 to 32 by end 2021. Jeffer continues to offer organic and regional growth opportunities to expand Jeffer's unique value position in the Western Dine-In segment targeting teens, young adults and families. This year we have added many more Asian dishes such as Korean and Thai available through all channels: take away, delivery and dine-in to cater to more local consumers during their economic situation. We also opened Jeffer’s first franchise in Chumphon with plans to grow franchising business. We continue to roll out Jeffer’s new Brand Corporate Identity with a refresh look and feel to testify with our “Lifestyle” positioning.
Our investment in the Thai Solar Energy Public Company (TSE) continues to be a valuable asset. We continue to hold 2% of TSE. The market capital of TSE as of December 31st was around Baht 113.49 million.
The Company continues our emphasis on Good Corporate Governance by maintaining an “Excellent” rating of 93% in the Corporate Governance Report of Thai Listed Companies in 2021 from the Thai Institute of Directors (IOD), supported by the Stock Exchange of Thailand, as well as maintaining an “Excellent and deserve as an example” rating of 100% from the Thai Investors Association in their assessment of our Annual General Meeting in 2021. We will strive to improve our standing and rating in Good Corporate Governance in the upcoming years.
We are optimistic on the future of our businesses in the years ahead through cautious expansion, improving margins, and driving growth through franchising opportunities. We will continue to transform and reset Wave into a leading “Lifestyle and Entertainment” company with further opportunities to expand organically and expansion into AEC countries. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank our shareholders, investors, customers, strategic partners, government agencies and our employees for their continual support and confidence in the Company.