Interview: Michel Wolfovski, CFO, Club Med

We speak to the CFO of package holiday operator Club Med, which has been on an upward trajectory since being acquired by Fosun Tourism Group for €939 million in 2015.

We speak to the CFO of package holiday operator Club Med, which has been on an upward trajectory since being acquired by Fosun Tourism Group for €939 million in 2015.


The group opened several new resorts in 2019. What role do you personally play in Club Med’s expansion plans?

The opening of a new resort is one of the most important and time-consuming choices we make. Every resort project has to present a business case, encompassing what the requirements of the resort are, the expected returns, real estate income ratio etc. It is my responsibility to ensure no stone is left unturned and that we are as exacting as possible in our requirements. Along with my fellow executives, I have a big say in which projects get the go-ahead.

 

2019’s results saw business volume increase by over 5%. What do you put this down to?

Our results have improved year after year, thanks to the application of our strategy. Our policy is to push the envelope as regards the quality of service we propose to clients, from the perks we give to individuals, to the attractiveness of our resorts, and the digital aspect of our company. But this takes time. We have, however, recently reached the bar of 85% of Club Med packages being premium all-inclusive holidays.

 

How has the board of Club Med responded to the flotation of your parent company Fosun Tourism Group on the Paris and Hong Kong stock exchanges in 2018?

The last few years have been a very busy time for the finance department, as we prepared the way for Fosun Tourism Group’s IPOs in Paris and Hong Kong. We had to manage the impact on Club Med’s financial calendar, for one thing, with the fiscal year now ending on 31 December instead of 31 October, not to mention the arrival of the IFRS 16 legislation [the latest iteration of the International Financial Reporting Standards, which came into effect on 1 January 2019], which has had significant consequences for Club Med. Happily, we were able to harness our integrated finance systems and, above all, our dynamic and highly competent workforce.

 

In 2019 Club Med announced the refinancing of its debt. What were the objectives?

When Fosun acquired Club Med in 2015, we were €400 million in debt. Our financial situation has since improved, and we have put in place new lines of credit, with more advantageous conditions and guarantees. Furthermore, our refinancing had a built-in CSR [corporate social responsibility] dimension, which involved reevaluating credit costs according to four sustainable development performance indicators – that is to say the eco-construction certification of our resorts, the Green Globe sustainable tourism certification, the progressive reduction of the use of disposable plastics, and the support of grass-roots agroecology. Club Med has always promoted respectful values and practices where the environment is concerned, and for the local population and the places which welcome our resorts. It is therefore important for us to integrate concrete and measurable ESG criteria when going about our activities, whether it’s the construction of our resorts or their day-to-day running.

 

Regarding the Club Med Corporate Foundation, what goodwill activities do you encourage your staff to participate in?

Club Med was one of the first companies anywhere to create, in 1978, its own foundation. Today, its work mainly consists of improving the living conditions of vulnerable children and the protection of the natural environment around our resorts. We work with local stakeholders and mobilize the resources available to Club Med, including the rich experience and skills of our workforce, as well as the entire Club Med infrastructure at our disposal.

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