Zermatt Bergbahnen: Successful Financial Year With Record Figures

The key figures speak  for themselves. The operating income of CHF 82.5 million, the EBITDA of CHF 45.6 million and the cash flow of CHF 42.5 million are absolute record values. With 55.3% of the operating income (EBITDA) and 51.5% of the operating income (cash flow), these important key figures again reached the usual peak values ​​in the 2021/2022 financial year and were clearly above the benchmarks of the mountain railway industry. Despite these very good figures, the Board of Directors has not proposed a dividend payment to the shareholders. Even after this very good financial year, the key balance sheet indicators are not where they were before the COVID-19 pandemic and should be rectified as a matter of priority.

For the second time, shareholders were invited to the Zermatt Bergbahnen AG Annual General Meeting in the Matterhorn Test Center on Trockener Steg. The Board of Directors headed by President Franz Julen and the Executive Board headed by CEO Markus Hasler were able to report on an extremely successful financial year and excellent results. The number of guests in summer 2021 developed similarly to those of the previous year, with up to 18% fewer guests traveling on the facilities compared to summer 2019, the last "normal" summer before the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, lower sales were recorded than in 2019. However, the summer of the previous year was slightly exceeded. A look at the guest structure shows that the international guests were not yet completely back and the resulting losses could not be made up for by more domestic guests. The trend in demand for single tickets to the starting points for hikes can be described as continuing. This was in turn significantly higher than the demand for excursion tickets and return trips to the respective peaks. The summer ski area was the only business area that grew again in the past financial year compared to the previous year. Due to the travel restrictions last summer, the demand for training opportunities on the glacier was extremely high and a waiting list for the piste reservation had to be kept. Sales in this business area increased by 7.5% compared to the previous year.

In autumn, the general development surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic was rather unfavourable. In contrast to the other Alpine countries, the restrictions in Switzerland were only minimal. Only the mask requirement in closed vehicles and the 3G regulation in the catering trade remained in place. The tightened rules in Italy meant that international winter sports enthusiasts were almost completely absent from Cervinia/Valtournenche. Thanks to the extensive technical snowmaking, excellent slope conditions could be offered throughout the winter. Since there was largely no natural snowfall, this was a kind of «life insurance» for the entire destination. In contrast to the summer, the international guests also returned to Zermatt, the North American market in particular grew strongly as a result of the cooperation with IKON-Pass. The winter yield increased by 18.4% compared to the 2018/2019 financial year. The basis for this outstanding winter result was laid by the consistently beautiful weather during an exceptional winter.

Investments of around CHF 45 million were made in the 2021/2022 financial year. Most of this went into the construction of the tricable gondola "Matterhorn Glacier Ride II", which will open next year and thus complete the Matterhorn Alpine Crossing project as the highest crossing of the Alps by cable car. Investments were also made in the maintenance of slopes and infrastructure. In doing so, the Zermatt Bergbahnen once again attached great importance to active environmental construction support, which allowed interventions in nature to be reduced to a minimum and renaturation to be carried out. The dialogue with the responsible departments and the environmental organizations was therefore already sought during the respective planning phases.

At the Annual General Meeting, it was decided to carry the balance sheet profit forward and to suspend the dividend again for the 2021/2022 financial year. The previous members of the Board of Directors Franz Julen, Jean-Michel Cina, Hermann Biner, Romy Biner-Hauser, Sämi Perren and Patrick Z'Brun were re-elected, as was Franz Julen as Chairman of the Board of Directors. New to the Board of Directors is Prof. Dr. Christian Laesser, he is, among other things, a professor for tourism and service management at the University of St. Gallen and an internationally recognized tourism and long-distance market expert.

Markus Hasler, CEO of Zermatt Bergbahnen, draws a very positive balance of the 2021/2022 financial year, but puts the situation into perspective: “We have a difficult but successful financial year behind us. The record values ​​achieved make us proud and show that we made the right strategic decisions. The past exceptional winter with consistently good weather and the "pent-up demand" for trips by guests from international markets have contributed to this. The 2022/2023 financial year will, assuming a normal course of business and with a view to ongoing investment activity, bring a further improvement in the balance sheet structure, which is also necessary."

"The strategy of Zermatt Bergbahnen is based on top quality, the best service, willingness to invest, agile, innovative behavior and a product price that takes this premium strategy into account," explains Franz Julen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zermatt Bergbahnen. “With all this positive news, it must not be forgotten that the COVID-19 pandemic has left a significant mark on the balance sheet. Even after the very good 2021/2022 financial year, the key balance sheet figures are not where they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation led to another dividend waiver.", so Julen concluded.

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