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Switzerland – Grand Casino Kursaal Bern nearing pre-pandemic business levels

By - 9 May 2023

With two licences applications pending in Neuchâtel and Léman, the Grand Casino Kursaal Bern’s timing in nearing pre-pandemic business levels could not be better.

After a weak start to the 2022 financial year, all business units of the Kursaal Bern Group recorded substantial growth from the second quarter onwards, culminating in November with operating income of over CHF 4.3m. Overall, the Kursaal Bern Group recorded a significant increase in sales of 2022 of 61 per cent to CHF9.74m in 2021. The operating result EBITDA rose to CHF 7.9m, bringing the company into the profit zone at this level.

Nevertheless, at the end of the year there was a proportionate loss excluding minorities of CHF -2.5m. Compared to the previous year’s result adjusted for hardship assistance (CHF -13m), it can be seen that 2022 ended much better, even if it was not possible to fully compensate for the losses of the first quarter overall.

Chairman of the Board of Directors Prof. em. Dr. Daniel Buser said: “Last year, we faced the challenges, some of which were unexpected, and from the second quarter of 2022 onwards we will continuously present better frequencies and revenues. We will continue on this path with a focus on returning to profitable growth.”

The consequences of the fourth wave of the coronavirus were evident in all business areas in the first quarter of 2022: cancelled or postponed events and cancelled overnight stays. Numerous lockdowns in China affected supply chains. At the same time, the war in Ukraine began to weigh on the already difficult economic environment. Significant price increases were the result.

The operator stated: “In the second quarter, all business units of the Kursaal Bern Group benefited from an upturn in consumption. This pleasing development continued throughout the remainder of the year. The company had to accept a high fluctuation in its employees, which is customary in the industry.
However, it was once again able to fill all vacancies on its own. In 2022, the Kursaal Bern Group had 426 full-time equivalents.

“After a tough start to the year, the convention centre recovered quickly as the year progressed, with September and November almost fully booked.”

“With the end of the weak first quarter, occupancy rates were generated over the course of the year as in the pre-Corona year 2019 and better. Individual travellers, families and small groups from Southeast Asia and the Arab world were increasingly welcomed. In doing so, the hotel benefited from its international brand,” it added.

“The good weather made it possible to use the Kursaal Garden as early as March. The Rooftop Grill with more exclusive events than ever before and the almost fully booked Rooftop Igloos were very well received. In December 2022, the first preparatory work for the renovation of the Giardino restaurant began. It is scheduled to reopen in May 2023.

In 2022, the terrestrial casino almost returned to the level of 2019, the year before the pandemic. In October, an application for a licence was submitted to the Federal Gaming Commission (SFGB) for a terrestrial A-casino and for the online casino 7melons.ch.

The launch of the new technical platform of the online casino 7melons.ch has been successful. The range of products and services will be further expanded both technically and operationally, and digital marketing activities will be specifically geared to market needs.

In 2022, the [online] figures showed a clear upward trend after the end of the pandemic, but without coming close to pre-Corona levels. Casino Neuchâtel submitted an application for a licence for a terrestrial B casino to the ESBK. This was a priority after the online gaming platform was discontinued at the end of 2022.

In October 2022, the Kursaal Bern Group applied for another A concession for a third terrestrial casino in Romanel-sur-Lausanne: the Casino du Léman.

As of June 1, 2023, Thomas Keller will succeed CFO ad interim from CFO Oliver Schmutz, who is leaving the company at the end of May.

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