Entrepreneur Climbing: 10% of climbing rooms threatened with permanent closure

Climbing: 10% of climbing rooms threatened with permanent closure

After the summits, the descent into hell for the 170 tricolor climbing rooms … Mostly independent, sometimes with managers with the status of self-employed at their head, rarely own their own walls, they can only claim a minimum of aid: partial unemployment for their employees, capped solidarity fund, PGE when the banks accept it, some local aid …

“Many operators are nibbling away at the savings from the discipline’s golden decade. But the youngest cinemas don’t have these reserves to hold on ”, Explain Ghislain Brillet, president of the very young Union of climbing halls. At least 10% of theaters would thus be close to bankruptcy, like the Blocbuster hall in the La Défense district in Paris.

Climb Up had planned 20 room openings

The brands born in recent years are not doing any better. At the head of twenty-six rooms of the Climb Up network (14 million turnover in 2019), the former world climbing champion Francois Petit had to ask its shareholder Calcium Capital to remit 3 million euros of equity with bpifrance to make the bridging pending authorization to reopen.

The company also multiplied the EMPs for a total of 4 million euros. “The crisis has cut off our growing wings”, explains the entrepreneur. In March 2019, he raised 24 million euros in equity and bank loans to open twenty new theaters. Half of these openings had to be put on hold or shifted, such as that in downtown Lille: a plateau of 2,800 meters of surfaces to be climbed for a planned investment of 3 million euros.

In the midst of a health crisis, Clim Up has however completed the fitting out of three new rooms, including the much awaited one at Porte d’Italie, in Paris, sized to simultaneously accommodate 500 climbers. For this project which sets the record for scale in France, François Petit spent 4.5 million euros.

Arkose has suspended the payment of his rent

Its competitor Arkose (23 million turnover in 2019) is experiencing a similar situation. The 10 million euros raised by its founder, Steve Guillou, in 2018 have been absorbed into growth. The company has opened seventeen theaters that consume 600,000 euros in fixed charges per month, while the theaters have been closed almost half the year. To cushion the shock, the boss doubled his debt ratio by contracting a PGE of 5 million euros.

Since the second confinement, he has also suspended the payment of his rents, a decision that has so far been attacked by only one owner. “We have reached a critical size which allows us to limit the damage by sacrificing some of our growth projects”, explains Steve Guillou. Despite the crisis, the company will still open three additional rooms.

However, a clearing is emerging under the ceiling of the indoor climbing walls: after several meetings in Matignon, the profession got the government to come to their aid more massively with 70% of their fixed costs covered. As it stands, only companies with a monthly turnover of 1 million euros are entitled to it, which is not the case for any venue.

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