When Guy Antognelli, director of tourism and congress, revealed on September 24 that occupancy rates of hotels in Monaco were down this summer compared to last—-39% in July and -23.5% in August—he stated, “While the numbers are clearly on the decline, in the current health context, the results are better than expected.”
His words echoed that of the minister of finance and the economy, Jean Castellini, who only a few days earlier had said that the country’s deficit of €165 million is “better than expected” considering Monaco’s Q2 turnover plunged 13%—-a loss of €900 million—compared to the same period last year.
Yet over at Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) Group, Monaco’s largest private employer, things are clearly not better than expected as CEO Jean-Luc Biamonti announced Friday that for the first time in its history, SBM will have to fire employees due to economic reasons. The restructuring plan—a “social plan,” as he refers to it— will include voluntary departures and redundancies.
Biamonti, who has headed SBM since 2013, implored, “I guarantee you that we have done everything we can. And we will continue to make sure the restructuring plan goes as smoothly as possible.
“I am borrowing €110 million to make it through to the end of the year. We cannot continue like this,” added the former Goldman Sachs partner, who has taken a 30% cut in salary.
Having furloughed nearly 90% of their 4,000 employees mid-March, the company witnessed its worse monthly loss in over 150 years as turnover plummeted 92% drop in turnover of €15 million.
When the casinos reopened in June, Pascal Camia, executive vice-president, Casinos of Monaco, told Forbes Monaco, “It is true that the Monte Carlo Casino has a more international profile. However, last summer 50% of its international clientele came for Western Europe markets. So we remain optimistic.”
Seems that optimism wasn’t enough. With Q2 2020 turnover down 74%, SBM now has to reduce expenditures by €25 million. Its restructuring plan will encourage as many voluntary departures as possible for those over the age of 57 before the company announces redundancies, which will impact a third of employees in the hotel and restaurant sector, a third in gaming and a third working in cross-functional services.
Biamonti would not commit to numbers but said negotiations with unions and employee representatives will start next week. “We will support the employees who will be forced to leave the company to help them find something else. We will do everything we can to minimize the social impact.”