118th General Meeting Of Niesenbahn AG Held

The general meeting on May 8, 2024 unanimously followed the proposals of the board of directors of NIESENBAHN AG. Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Daniel Fischer once again achieved a very good result in the company's 115-year history. In his assessment of the situation, he focused on the “big picture”: this included investments of 11 million francs in the mountain house and railway over the last seven years, further steps on the path to sustainability and a look back at the major breakdown in August 2023. The Niesenbahn is intensively concerned with the question of the “right number of guests”.

High sales again with lower profitability

Demand was also right in the 2023 financial year, with 92,113 guests visiting the Niesen. With a turnover of CHF 6,074,000, the result was comparable to the previous year, “a random difference compared to the previous year in the order of one day’s turnover,” commented Chairman of the Board of Directors Daniel Fischer. When comparing the two profit centers Bahn and Berghaus, the more profitable development of the railway is noticeable. At the Berghaus, higher personnel costs had a negative impact, which put pressure on profitability. Together with the uncovered costs of the “44-hour breakdown” in August 2023, the result was a cash flow of 1,079. million francs, which corresponds to 17.8%. The goal must be over 20 percent in order to meet the high demands on investments and amortization.

Unanimous decisions and elections, dividends again

The 437 shareholders represented around 75% of the share capital of 1,371,700 francs and unanimously followed the Board of Directors' proposals. The board of directors with Dr. Daniel Fischer as President and the Board of Directors Martin Andres, Vice President, Alexandra Invernizzi, Marc Allenbach and Hans Martin Hadorn were unanimously re-elected for one year. After Corona, the shareholders decided for the first time to pay a dividend of three percent totaling 41,151 francs. “It is our goal to be able to pay regular dividends again from now on. In the current investment-intensive year, this is a start and a clear signal to the shareholders,” concluded Daniel Fischer.

Record high investments in mountain house and railway

The current investment cycle has been completed with an investment of seven million francs in the Berghaus and 4 million francs in the new drives and controls. This meant that the level of self-financing briefly fell to a low 22 percent. Around 1,077 million francs were written off in the 2023 financial year. The aim of the investments is to increase capacity utilization of the Berghaus through events, conferences and seminars, which is more independent of the weather, as well as stable rail operations for the next generation.

“The right number of guests is the goal, not the maximum”

“We don’t want a maximum number of guests every year, but rather the optimal number of guests that fits our offer,” said Daniel Fischer, describing the strategic attitude of the Niesenbahn management. The railway company strives for balanced demand with constant and best possible profitability in order to be able to meet the diverse demands. The “three-dimensional balance” is required: balanced capacity utilization with guests traveling as quickly as possible, employees from the region who are familiar with the offerings and are part of the company’s development, and a consumption of resources that allows the next generation to credibly explain what they are doing does and does.

The Leading award is only an intermediate step

The foundation for the label was laid with the sustainability measures that the company is already implementing. The decisive factor in achieving “Level III – leading” of the Swisstainable program was ISO certification with the “Environmental Management System (ISO 14001:2015)” standard. After successfully completing certification again at the end of June 2023, the Swisstainable label could be applied for at the highest level. «A nice and important sign that we are on the right path. But it can't be done with labels alone. We have to “stick with it” and implement further concrete measures. This is the only way we can make a serious contribution to sustainability.” says Nicolas Overney, Head of Marketing, Sales and Events. Credibility is extremely important, especially in these times when sustainability is booming. It takes consistency to avoid being accused of “greenwashing”. That's why sustainability at the Niesenbahn doesn't just start in the parking lot, but rather in the market and guest strategy.

Events are the lighthouses

Looking ahead to the 115th Niesen season, managing director Urs Wohler presented the program and offers. It started with Bastian Baker's fully booked concert. Radio BeO-Musikstubete, comedian Simon Enzler and the SPAN concert are already fully booked. There are still free seats for the next concert by Paul Millns, the old master of blues, soul and jazz from England, as well as for the wind quintet of the Swiss Army Game and the second talent stage with Zoë Më, Fabienne and Maryne. In addition to this talent promotion, the 21st Niesen Staircase is on the program.

The employees are “the plus”

As usual at the general meeting, Urs Wohler stood up for his employees. In sustainability with the three dimensions of economy, ecology and social issues, employees are the “plus” and the most important dimension. That's why the Niesenbahn has been paying its gastronomy employees the one-hour commute from Mülenen to Niesen and back since 2023, along with numerous other fringe benefits. “Nothing works without employees and if you have a tip for us on where we can find two cooks and an apartment for them both, we would be happy to receive tips,” the managing director used the platform for a commercial.

Berghaus Elsigenalp before the first positive result

The leased business on Elsigen produced a loss of 75,000 and 95,000 francs in the first two years of the lease. The major investment in the mountain house by the owner, Elsigenalpbahnen AG, paid off in the first winter. Sales rose by 30% despite difficult conditions and nine days of closure due to the storm. For the new operations manager couple, Nick Reding and Nicole Hänni, the goal is a positive result, while another goal has already been achieved, namely the possibility of year-round jobs in the catering industry at Niesenbahn AG.

Visit from Countess Harrach

On September 24, 1867, a large group of nobles and their entourage went on a tour of the Niesen from Oberhofen Castle. Countess Helene von Pourtalès and Count Ferdinand Harrach were there. This was to be a fateful day for both of them. In the snowstorm on the way to the summit, Count Ferdinand Harrach asked Helene of Pourtalès to be his wife. And she said yes to him. This story, which the Countess recorded in her memories, is the starting point for a theater performance on the Niesen, which will be performed on the Niesen in August 2023. Countess Helene Harrach attended the general assembly and gave a sample of what awaits guests at the Niesen summit in August 2024.

New club under the umbrella of NIESENBAHN AG

Since 2006, a diverse cultural program has been created on the Niesen every summer. In the summer of 2025, Niesen will celebrate “20 years of Culture Mountain”. The cultural events take place in an exclusive setting, at the top of the mountain, without distractions, for a limited number of guests. Innovation and at the same time stability are important to the “Kulturberg Niesen Association”: In turbulent times, in which one crisis follows another, the cultural offer should offer stability and reliability so that guests can treat themselves to a “good time”. In addition, the “Kulturberg Niesen Association” shows artists and topics that cannot be seen everywhere. The association was presented to the general assembly; Membership is now possible.

Annual report here

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