FINANCE: Trouble On The Links
Recent Western Cape Business News
NO-ONE would have begrudged retail doyen and long-serving Pick n Pay boss Raymond Ackerman some quiet time on the links at his family founded golf club, Clovelly.
But it looks like Clovelly is in as challenging space as Pick n Pay. CBN has been told that a number of disgruntled members have been giving Ackerman and the governing body at the prestigious False Bay-based golf course a hard time.
It seems the main cause of unhappiness at Clovelly – at least for some members – was a new subscription fee structure proposed by the club. The fee structure, CBN understands, has been subsequently revised after an outcry from members.
The fees were initially hiked to cover additional costs to operate the golf course, which – according to correspondence forwarded to CBN – ran at nearly R12 million in the 2011 financial year. This year the costs of running Clovelly are estimated closer to R11 million.
Clovelly chairman Vic Christian, in a letter to Clovelly members at the end of March, also promised to form a committee to investigate the viability and sustainability of the present fee structure. Recommendations would be presented for approval at the club’s AGM in August.
It seems Clovelly – perhaps fearing a members’s revolt or a mass walkout of members – took the situation very seriously, so much so that Ackerman made a desperate plea via Youtube for members to support the club.
In the nine minute video Ackerman explained the initial fee increases were proposed after Clovelly found itself R2 million to R3 million down on its budget for the year ahead.
He admitted the initial fee structure proposals were ‘wrongly done’, and had been revised after members’ criticism.
Ackerman said Clovelly’s revenue was hit by virtual golf memberships (special arrangements where golfers that are not members of a club can play a selection of courses at knock-down prices). ‘Income from visitors has gone right down…and it’s not because of (player) numbers.’
Ackerman stressed Clovelly had been profitable for 19 of the past 20 years, and reiterated that the financial standing of the club was ‘really sound’.
But he noted the governing would be looking at all aspects of expenditure ‘in case some of you think we don’t know how to run a business’.
Ackerman urged members to back the current leadership. “We can accept constructive criticism, but I want to stop the unnecessary criticism. You are spoiling the morale of the club with this persistent criticism.”
“What’s really hurting me is the lack of appreciation for what I and the governing body have done.”
Then somewhat threateningly he added: “I’m not prepared to stay in my present role if we are going to have this negative attack on us…”
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