EICC ‘may need council bailout’ after £1.2m loss

The BMA conference helped inject �50m into the city economy. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The BMA conference helped inject �50m into the city economy. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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THE Edinburgh International Conference Centre is set to plunge £1.2 million into the red this year – and may need a council bailout in 2016.

New accounts show the council-owned venue, which last year completed a massive £30m extension, is on track to suffer significant losses amid a drop in revenue from rental, events and catering operations.

Financial reserves are dwindling rapidly and it is expected “a cash injection” will be needed in early 2016.

EICC directors said the disappointing performance was due to delays affecting earlier expansion plans, which were originally scheduled for completion in 2009.

And they said the cyclical nature of conference bookings – often completed several years before a gathering takes place – meant the income hit would last until 2016, when it is hoped earnings will begin to recover.

City council leaders, who are battling to plug a £67m funding gap, said there was no formal requirement for them to step in with rescue money.

But they have highlighted a trust fund, set aside for capital improvements, which could help meet running costs.

It was announced last month that Marshall Dallas would take over as EICC chief executive from Hans Rissmann, who was in the role for 21 years.

An EICC spokesman said: “Delay in the opening of our new event space has caused a 24-month revenue shortfall which will be corrected with fully contracted business from 2016 onwards. There is provision within our existing financial arrangement with City of Edinburgh Council to ensure that any cash requirement in the early part of 2016 can be met and will not impact on other council budgets.”

The EICC’s financial difficulties come after figures released earlier this year indicated it had helped inject a record-breaking £50m into city cash registers over 2013.

Money-spinning summits held at the venue include the International Investigative Dermatology conference, the BMA conference, the European Space Agency’s Living Planet Symposium and The Linux Foundation’s Automotive Summit.

It has also hosted top comic talents, including Jimmy Carr and Alan Davies.

Council leaders said they were confident that a detailed review of EICC operations would soon bear fruit.

A spokeswoman said: “We are working closely with the EICC’s new chief executive and members of staff to increase revenue, and we are confident that new initiatives will improve the financial situation.”