BSM drives strategy towards schools expansion in Europe

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BSM, Britain's biggest motoring school, is looking to change gear with a shift into information technology training in Britain and expansion of its driving schools business outside the UK.

The group, which saw its profits go into reverse at the half year after the introduction of the new written driving test sharply reduced numbers taking the practical test, wants to broaden its business.

Richard Glover, BSM's chief executive, said the move into general IT training was not imminent, but made long-term sense: "We already train our driving instructors and compile driving manuals, so we have experience of training. IT training is a fast growing area and would reduce our dependence on a narrow market."

BSM is also considering opening driving schools on the Continent, probably in France initially where it has knowledge of the market from its relationship with Faros, the French aircraft simulator group. BSM plans to site simulators, replicas of Vauxhall Corsas, in eight UK cities by October to encourage young learner drivers to start lessons early: "The response so far has been stunning. Simulators help drivers overcome the fear factor. We think they will be a unique selling point for us," Mr Glover said.

BSM said that the introduction of the written driving test had led to a 50 per cent fall in the number of drivers applying for the practical exam. As a result half-year profits to June slumped from pounds 2.9m to pounds 1.5m, in line with the profits warning in April.

BSM held its half-year dividend at 2.53p.