Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) chief executive Marshall Dallas has hailed a jump in sales at the council-owned venue as it seeks to move back into the black.
A report compiled by accountant EY last year warned that the centre was facing a £1.3 million operating loss, and Dallas – who took up his role in October – described the findings as “very sobering”.
However, he told The Scotsman that his main focus was boosting the EICC’s contribution to the local economy, with conferences and delegates delivering an £11.5m boost for the city in the first five months of this year, up from £10.5m a year ago.
Dallas, a former food and beverage manager at Gleneagles Hotel, also said that he has given a commitment for the centre, which has a core workforce of more than 40 people, to be back in profit “permanently” from the first quarter of 2016.
He added: “The accounts for January to May show we’ve made real impact on that £1.3m loss. In the first five months of the year, our sales are up about 40 per cent. As of the end of May, we are sitting with an operating profit of about £110,000, against last year’s £821,000 loss.
“We’ve been busy and had a complete turnaround in sales and marketing, introducing day delegate rates for corporate customers, so they know there won’t be any hidden costs.”
This week it was announced that the EICC had been selected to host the Rehabilitation International 23rd World Congress in October 2016, in a move set to bring in more than 1,000 delegates and provide the local economy with a boost of more than £2m.
The venue will also welcome the annual meeting of the British Society of Echocardiography in 2017 and 2020, while the Council of International Schools’ forum, representing more than 1,000 schools and colleges from 100 countries, will roll into town this year and in 2017.
In February, Dallas unveiled his first senior team appointment by bringing in business tourism industry veteran Amanda Wrathall as sales and marketing director. Wrathall previously worked for Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange venue and a spa chain. The team has been expanded further recently with the arrival of Deborah Rose and Carron Webster into sales and business development roles.
Dallas said: “Our main competitors are the European convention centres, for example Vienna and Barcelona, and we’re competing against them in our core association business – that’s our lifeblood. There are about 12,000 associations worldwide, of which 6,000 are operational within Europe at any one time. That’s the size of the pot that we have to bid for.”