Paul no longer Riddell’s Bay GM as club faces economic challenges
Dennis Paul has left his job as general manager of Riddell’s Bay Golf and Country Club.
A letter from the club’s board of directors, which we obtained, advised shareholders and members that Mr Paul “is no longer with Riddell’s Bay Golf & Country Club”.
The letter from board president George Holmes on Friday said: “On behalf of the employees, members and shareholders of Riddell’s Bay, the Board would like to thank Dennis for his hard work and commitment to the Club over the four years he has been with us. We wish him every success in his future endeavours. The Board will consider appointment of a successor in the coming period and will advise Members and Shareholders as this process progresses.”
No reason was given for Mr Paul’s departure and neither club officials nor he could immediately be reached for comment.
His departure comes as the club faces serious economic difficulties, its board warning members that it may have to close its doors without major changes to its operating model.
A letter in September, which we obtained, warned members that “without the committed support of shareholders, members, employees and other stakeholders for changes designed to sustain Riddell’s Bay in the future, it is likely that the Club will need to cease operating within a year or so”.
The letter from Mr Holmes said the club had “arrived at a crossroads, and it is likely that the next year will indicate whether or not our club and company can continue to operate in the future. If it is to continue, we will have to change the operating model significantly in order to respond to the realities of the economic environment in Bermuda.”
He said there has been some improvement in the club’s financial results compared to the previous year with golf revenues rebounding from their “downward spiral of the last couple of years, increasing 28 percent”.
“A concerted membership drive resulted in increased membership revenues of seven percent,” the letter said. “Following increased expenses of four percent our net loss was under $100,000 for the first time since before the financial crisis.
“While these results are positive, there are other key financial issues which threaten the Club’s survival. The Club’s cash flow continues to be poor, with operating cash flow lower than the prior year. The Club has had to arrange short term cash flow financing in each of the last several years in order to survive the winter golf season when incoming cash is traditionally low. This cash flow deficiency continues to deteriorate and our bankers are understandably showing reluctance to continue providing financing in the absence of clear plans showing how the Club can exit from the cash shortfall.”
The letter added: “With the lingering recession, lower tourist numbers and the loss of significant number of expatriate workers on the island, all golf clubs on the island are struggling for members. We see significant attrition in member numbers each new membership year. All clubs, including ours, have drastically reduced, or eliminated entrance fees in order to attract new members. It is a significant marketing challenge each year to just replace those members who leave each year. At present, there is simply insufficient revenue from the available members’ dues, food and beverage margins and outside golf revenues to support the costs of maintaining the golf course and clubhouse.”
It continued: “Unless one believes the underlying Bermuda economy is going to recover significantly in the near term, it is clear that there will need to be major changes at Riddell’s Bay in order for it to survive.”
The letter said the board will carry out a process this year to “completely revisit the operating model of the club”.
Mr Paul was involved in controversy at the club earlier this year when an expatriate waiter claimed he was obeying management orders when he was caught by Immigration officials working behind the bar at the club. The club maintained the man simply stepped in to serve a drink as a service to members, and at no point worked as a bartender, or was ever scheduled to perform bartending duties. In March industrial action broke out at the club over management’s dismissal of a staff member. That case was sent to arbitration.
During his time at the Club Mr Paul also worked to encourage young Bermudians to join the hospitality sector, setting up programmes and events for them.