The ordinary general meeting of shareholders of Costa Crociere S.p.A, held March 31, 2004, adopted the financial statement for the period December 1, 2002/November 30, 2003. 2003 was a record year
for Costa Crociere: the company topped the half-million mark for the number of passengers carried in a 12-month period (a historic achievement and a first for a European cruise operator) with 557,300 guests, compared to 462,036 the year before (+21%), amounting to 4,300,000 passenger days (up 19% on 2002). Sales rose by 7.2%, at euro 785.6 million. Operating income was also substantial, at euro 105 million, although down on the figure recorded in 2002 on account of the strong pressure on prices that occurred throughout the year. On the other hand, this pressure levelled off at the beginning of 2004. As for ship occupancy, the rate for the year was 100.94%.
Highlights of 2003 included:
- the entry into service of two new ships, the Costa Mediterranea and Costa Fortuna, thus leading to an increase in total guest capacity, with fleetwide accommodation now reaching 15,700;
- a 23% increase in the number of lower berths (double occupancy cabins);
- the inauguration of the Savona Palacrociere which, since its inception, has set new standards in modern cruise terminal design.
“Once again we can confirm that we are very pleased with our results for 2003, which were attained despite the general economic difficulties experienced throughout the tourist industry,” commented Pier Luigi Foschi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Costa Crociere. “Indeed, both the number of passengers and the volume of sales are on the up, while profitability has been maintained at a very good level. The positive trend has continued into 2004 with excellent performance in terms of bookings and encouraging price stability”.
Costa Crociere plans to continue its expansion in 2004, with an anticipated increase of some 30% in the size of its offer. This is justified by the operational availability throughout the year of the two new ships introduced in 2003.
The growth trend is borne out by the booking figures for the first quarter of the year as well as by new records set in January:
· the highest number of passenger bookings on the one day (January 19, 2004): 6,102 passengers, up 9% on the previous record set in 2003.
· the highest number of passenger bookings in a week (January 17-23, 2004): 30,445, a jump of 24% on the previous best recorded the year before.
In addition, plans are already in place for Costa’s fleet expansion programme right up to 2006: according to Company forecasts, the number of passenger days will reach 6.6 million by the end of 2005. In the meantime, a new 112,000 gross tonnage cruise ship with guest capacity of 3,800 has already been commissioned from Fincantieri. The value of the investment is about euro 450 million, and building work is already underway.
In order to take up these challenges and handle the rapid growth dictated by market opportunities, Costa Crociere has decided to beef up its managerial structure. A new Office is being set up, under the direction of the newly appointed President Gianni
Onorato, with the objective of further streamlining and innovating the Company’s core business. Gianni
Onorato, 44, comes from Torre del Greco but has lived in Genoa since 1986. He joined Costa in 1990 and worked initially in the hotel activity sector before becoming Cruise Product Director. He was appointed to the position of Cruise Operations Director in 1998. At the same time, new stimulus is being given to the Group’s business strategy with the appointment of Mario Martini to the position of Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing in European markets and the rest of the world. Mr Martini is from Camogli (near Genoa), and has worked in Costa since 1969 in key positions in the Sales Division. Meanwhile, Dino Schibuola, Chairman and CEO Costa Cruise Lines N.V., remains in charge of the markets in North, Central and South America.
Taking over from Gianni Onorato today (April 1) as Cruise Operations Vice President is Antonio De Rosa, who rejoins Costa after acquiring useful experience on the national and international cruise market. De Rosa, who is from Salerno and boasts a 30-year career in the cruise sector, is returning to Genoa and Costa Crociere. From 1977 to 1990 he pursued a career on board, culminating in his appointment as Hotel Director, before moving to shoreside administration in charge of fleetwide hotel operations.
A Central Administration and Finance Division is also being established, under the direction of the new Vice President
and CFO Beniamino Maltese, who is Genoese and has been with Costa since March 1981 becoming Vice President Group Treasurer in 1992. The new division will
coordinate the Costa Group’s administrative, financial, treasurer, taxation and legal activities.
“The consolidation of our management structure will
enable us to confront the growth of the market and that of the Company with greater strength and cohesion, focussing on our core business of cruises so as to confirm our European leadership in the broader tourist industry,” Mr Foschi said.
“Our top management are all Italian, with a proven track record of international experience in the field, and I recognise that they have skilfully and successfully met the challenge posed by the constant expansion of our Company in the last few years, seizing the opportunities provided by the market.”