The health crisis is thwarting the recovery efforts of Monaco’s largest employer, SBM, which saw profits plummet this summer ahead of a “very difficult” winter.
It was difficult to celebrate the Société des Bains de Mer’s (SBM) record financial year on Friday at the shareholder’s meeting. General Manager Jean-Claude Biamonti had the unenviable task of following the impressive figures with the disastrous position that the SBM finds itself in this year.
“We were on the road to recovery, we were almost there,” Mr Biamonti told the press during a debrief at the Hermitage Hotel.
After years of sitting in the red, the company in charge of managing Monaco’s main hotels and casinos achieved record profits for the second year in a row, bringing in €619.9 million against €526.5 million the previous financial year – an increase of 18%. Growth was seen in all sectors, particularly rental, where the leasing of new commercial spaces at the Hôtel de Paris and in the One Monte-Carlo complex, and the letting of residential apartments at One Monte-Carlo, led to an increase in operating income of €34 million.
“The last month of the fiscal year, however, was strongly impacted by the consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic,” said Mr Biamonti.
Due to the closure of all of its casinos, restaurants, and hotels – with the exception of the Hôtel de Paris and the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort – SBM lost around €15 million in turnover.
It is a trend that continued well into summer.
During the first quarter of this financial year, from 1st April to 30th June, SBM’s financial activity dropped by 74% compared to the same period last year.
The gaming sector was hardest hit during the summer with turnover down 63%, partly due to the lack of international customers, particularly for private table games.
Two of SBM’s casinos – Sun Casino and the Monte-Carlo Bay Casino, were never reopened after the initial closure, and they are unlikely to reopen in the foreseeable future, according to the general manager.
After this “mediocre” summer, SBM is now heading into a “very difficult” winter, said Mr Biamonti, and he expects there to be a “significant impact” on the 2020/2021 financial year.
As a result, SBM has ceased almost all of its investment activity and staff have been redeployed as much as possible to avoid resorting to the government’s partial unemployment system, which in itself is costly for the State.
“I cannot guarantee that there will be no economic measures in the weeks and months to come,” conceded the general manager.
Photo: SBM General Manager Jean-Luc Biamonti, by Monaco Life