HOLLYWOOD A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio has helped the Edinburgh International Conference Centre get back into the black for the first time since its expansion in 2013.
The Titanic actor was guest of honour and keynote speaker at the Scottish Business Awards in November, when he addressed 2000 dinner guests at the Morrison Street venue.
The EICC made a profit of just over £500,000 last year compared with a loss of £150,000 in 2015, and much bigger losses of £1.7 million in 2014 and £921,096 in 2013.
It also hosted more events and delegates than ever before, and posted record turnover.
Figures show a total of 91,000 delegates attended events at the EICC in 2016, up from 71,000 in 2015 while the number of events increased from 145 to 200.
Turnover for 2016 was just over £10 million.
And the council-owned venue generated £51.6m for the economy, up from 45.8m in 2015.
Gavin Barrie, convener of the city council’s economy committee, said: “The successes of the EICC last year demonstrate the continuing significant financial benefit that the centre brings to the Capital.
“Congratulations to EICC chief executive Marshall Dallas and his team for their hard work in attracting even more businesses and organisations from across the globe to this fantastic venue. And the future continues to look bright with more major events planned.”
The profit comes after a difficult spell for the conference centre. There were fears it might need a council bailout last year and an independent report predicted it would be 2017 before it returned to the black.
The EICC’s objective had been to achieve an operating profit of £12,000 last year, but the final figure was significantly higher at around £519,000.
The centre opened in 1995 and in 2013 added the Lennox Suite, a world-class conference space with moving floor as part of a £35m expansion.
The EICC has won a series of awards for its sustainability, environmental standards and accessibility.
And on the back of that, it hosted the Rehabilitation International World Congress in October, attended by 1000 delegates from 50 countries to discuss the empowerment of people with disabilities.
It also became only the second building in Edinburgh to achieve an Autism Friendly Award ahead of hosting the 11th Autism-Europe International Congress in September.
Chief executive Marshall Dallas said: “While the team and I are satisfied with the numbers we have produced for 2016, including moving the business into profitability, perhaps our greatest achievement is our increasing reputation as one of the most accessible and environmentally sound conference centres worldwide, a growing reputation that has helped secure a significant upswing in international association and corporate business.
“In 2017, we will continue to invest in our people and technology to keep us ahead of the curve.”
Social Bite’s Josh Littlejohn, founder of the Scottish Business Awards, said the EICC was “a world-class venue which provided an outstanding service”.