A financial year marked by uncertainty
Zermatt Bergbahnen AG welcomed shareholders to its 20th Annual General Meeting at Trockener Steg. Last year’s AGM was held without participants due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but this time attendees were invited to attend the meeting in person while complying with the applicable COVID-19 safety precautions. In the 2020/2021 financial year (1 June 2020 – 31 May 2021), Zermatt Bergbahnen AG had to contend with a subdued summer performance and a winter season dominated by uncertainties. This resulted in sales of CHF 55.2 million (15% down on 19/20), EBITDA at CHF 19.5 million (35.3% of sales), cash flow at CHF 15.9 million (28.8% of sales) and a company loss of almost CHF 3 million. Nevertheless, significant investments were made in the long-term future of the company.
Zermatt Bergbahnen AG went into the 2020/2021 financial year beset by great uncertainty. The development of the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenging economic framework associated with it pointed towards a difficult year ahead. The ending of the government-imposed shutdown on 8 June 2020 made it possible to take up business in the summer. Summer business activities in 2020, defined as strategic growth drivers for Zermatt Bergbahnen AG sales, were restricted almost entirely to domestic visitors. Any feeling of having completed a successful summer season with “new” visitors from within Switzerland was refuted by the actual visitor numbers and associated sales figures. A fall in summer sales of 21% was recorded.
At the beginning of the 2020/2021 financial year, a hesitant recovery in the European travel market was anticipated for the winter of 2020/2021. However, the shutdown of Cervino S.p.A. on 26 October 2021 due to Covid-19 measures imposed by the Italian government resulted in a trend in the opposite direction. It was not possible for Cervino S.p.A. to restart its business activities until the end of the 2020/2021 financial year, so throughout the entire winter visitors were only able to access our offering on the Zermatt side. The negative development of the Covid-19 pandemic in the autumn of 2020 led to regional authorities in most Alpine countries preventing or greatly restricting the pursuit of winter sports. The absence of visitors from the international markets was also felt strongly in the winter. Revenue fell by another 10% against the already poor performance of the previous winter.
Despite the challenging 2020/2021 financial year, Zermatt Bergbahnen AG is investing in the future, albeit at a scale in keeping with the prevailing conditions. Some groundbreaking stages in the once-in-a-generation Matterhorn Alpine Crossing project have been completed and the vision of the second Matterhorn Glacier Ride 3S cableway from Testa Grigia to the Klein Matterhorn is close to becoming a reality. Other projects, including the Kumme gondola lift with snow-making installations, were implemented during the 2020/2021 financial year in accordance with the investment plan. A total of CHF 49 million was invested during the past financial year.
The financial statements show that operating income fell year on year from CHF 64.9 million to CHF 55.2 million, equivalent to a deficit of almost CHF 10 million (15%). The figures for EBITDA at CHF 19.5 million (35.3% of sales) and cash flow at CHF 15.9 million (28.8% of sales) are the best in the sector and correspond to the benchmark figures set by Seilbahnen Schweiz, which are based on normal framework conditions. The year-on-year decrease in EBITDA was around CHF 11.7 million (37.6%) and for cash flow it was CHF 11.5 million (41.5%). Write-downs fell to CHF 19.2 million (minus 26.1%) and the corporate loss was around CHF 3 million.
The available earnings are to be carried forward to the new account and therefore the dividends for the financial year 2020/2020 will be waived. The Annual General Meeting re-elected sitting directors Franz Julen, Hermann Biner, Jean-Michel Cina and Patrick Z’Brun. New members to be elected to the Board of Directors were Romy Biner-Hauser as representative of the municipality of Zermatt and Sämi Perren as representative of Zermatt Council. Gerold Biner, Andreas Perren and Roland Zegg did not stand for re-election. Franz Julen was elected to continue as Chairman.
Markus Hasler, CEO of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG, commented on the financial year as follows: “The almost complete absence of international visitors (>50% in a normal year) could not be offset by a sharp increase in the number of Swiss visitors. This resulted in a deterioration in the earnings situation while operating costs remained almost entirely the same. Despite this unsatisfactory result for Zermatt Bergbahnen AG, the financial indicators are still among the best in the sector.”
“The effects of the coronavirus pandemic dogged us throughout the 2020/2021 financial year with serious implications for the balance sheet and income statement. Nevertheless, the Board of Directors and the Executive Board have made important decisions, pioneering decisions. We are certain that the investments we have made in spite of the uncertainties caused by the pandemic will prove to be the correct ones in the medium and long term – not just for Zermatt Bergbahnen AG but for the resort as a whole,” said Chairman Franz Julen with an optimistic eye on the future.
For further information, please contact:
CEO Zermatt Bergbahnen AG
+41 (0)27 966 01 01, firstname.lastname@example.org