Transcript of Catherine Powell’s Euro Disney AGM speech made on 31 March 2017.


Here is a transcript of the speech Catherine Powell, President of Euro Disney S.A.S. made at last weeks Annual General Meeting of Shareholders held at Hotel New York in Disneyland Paris.


Euro Disney S.C.A. Annual General Meeting
March 31, 2017
Speech of Catherine Powell, Présidente, Euro Disney S.A.S.

Thank you Gilles.

And allow me to welcome you, ladies, gentlemen, dear shareholders, to your annual general  meeting.

I am very pleased to welcome you to our resort, for my first general meeting with you.

Thank  you for coming in such numbers. And I’m delighted to meet you.

It is an honour for me to be here as Présidente of the Euro Disney group.  I am very aware of  my  responsibility.  Disneyland  Paris  is  a  major  player  in  French  tourism,  the  number  one  tourist hub in Europe, with more than 320 million visits since it opened 25 years ago.

Allow me to introduce myself.

I started my career in media, making documentaries.

From  this first  experience,  I understood  the  importance  of developing good storytelling in  order to thrill the audience and communicate strong, sincere emotion. After that I joined the  BBC.  And  since  2004  I  have  been  working  for  The  Walt  Disney  Company:  this  is  where  I  realised  the  importance  of  a  perfect  understanding  of  the  consumer,  to  better  anticipate  their reactions, expectations and desires.

More recently, I led The Walt Disney Company for Australia and New Zealand.

There, I had 2 top  priorities:

Firstly: Putting the consumer at the center of the game;

Secondly: Adapting the Disney brand to the local culture.

Today,  I  want  to  apply  these  experiences  –  of  creative  power,  cultural  integration  and  business impact –  to the benefit of Disneyland Paris.

The park has never been so beautiful. This is thanks to your support and the recapitalisation  plan that we implemented in 2015.

This  plan  was  essential.  It  has  allowed  us  to  invest  for  the  long  term,  and  t o  continue  to  pursue our development.

Above all it has enabled us to initiate a renovation plan, which began 2 years ago, affecting  10 major attractions.

To  date,  6  attractions have  been  entirely  renovated;  many iconic park features  have been  transformed; and no less than 4 new shows have been designed.

I am extremely proud of our teams’ creative and innovative work.

I also pleased with the satisfaction expressed by our guests.

This would not have been possible without you.

And our efforts are not limited to the parks.

The changes are visible in our hotels too: ‘Disney’s Newport Bay Club’ completed its upgrade  in 2016 by obtaining a 4th star. We’ve also begun renovation of “Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne.”

Let’s take a look at some pictures of these achievements.


As you can see, this renovation plan was ambitious, and it has proven successful. 2016 got  off to a great start: visitor numbers were up, and all our operational indicators  –  spending  per guest; Hotel occupancy and average spending per room – were also on the rise.

For  this, I would  like to pay tribute  to  my predecessor,  Tom  Wolber  and highlight the  key  role  he  played  over  the  last  2  years.  Tom  led  the  Group  during  the  recapitalization  plan,  while simultaneously taking on this unprecedented renovation program. It is thanks to Tom,  that the park is so beautiful today!

I  would  also  like  to  thank  Virginie  Calmels,  who  always  acted  with  determination  and  sincerity  as  Chairwoman  of  the  Supervisory  Board  for  4  years.  She  was  a  very  active  participant and contributed much over the years. We wish her much success in her future  professional projects and political endeavors.

It is with pleasure that we now welcome Axel Duroux to lead the Board. He knows the Group  well, having been on the board since 2013. He has taken on his new role as Chairman in a  most constructive and positive way.

But… 2016 proved to be a difficult year for the country.  Everyone involved in tourism has  been impacted, and Euro Disney was not spared. I would like to revisit these facts in more  detail.

A few days after the attacks of November 13, 2015, we made the decision to close our parks  for 4 days in respect of the national mourning period.

Nonetheless, we initially managed to limit the impact of these events. The terrorist attacks in  Brussels in March, and the July attack in Nice changed everything.

The business environment contracted again, and in a very brutal way. We saw a decline in  reservations, and experienced many cancellations. Terrorism created a feeling of insecurity,  which particularly affected the tourism industry.

Other factors, such as the strikes in the spring and floods in the Paris region, made access to  our park very difficult, and affected our visitation numbers.

Our  2016  annual  performance  reflects  this  difficult  context,  with  a  very  significant  loss,  which Mark Stead will expand on later.

We cannot be satisfied with these results. The gravity of the situation calls on each one of us  to take responsibility and work together to secure the future of our resort and its staff. It is  in  this  context  that  The  Walt  Disney  Company has  renewed  its  support  for  the  group  and  France,  pledging  to  support  a  recapitalization  to  meet  the  Group’s  financial  needs.  We  welcome this development, which  is positive for the company. This project will support the  future  of  the  Euro  Disney  Group  and  enable  our  on-going  investments  in  France,  as  the  number one European tourist destination.

Dear  shareholders,  for  a  long  time  we  have  shared  a  special  relationship.  I  want  it  to  continue even if Euro Disney is delisted from the stock exchange. I have had the opportunity  to discuss this with some of you.

And  I  can  announce  today  that  the  registered  Shareholders  Club  members  will  see  their  benefits  maintained for a period of 10 years.

I now hand it over to Mark Stead –  I will be back after he has spoken.

[Speech of Mark Stead]

Thank you, Mark.

Yes,  2016  was  a  difficult  year.  The  economic  and  political  situation  was  in  turmoil.  And  tourism   has   also   changed   profoundly.   Today   it   is   shaped   by   the  new   aspirations   of  consumers, as they look for new and original ideals.

These  consumers  want  their  choices  to  have  meaning  and  to  live  unique  and  authentic  experiences. This must be the starting point for our thinking, and our action!

In  this  context,  we  cannot  continue  to  operate  without  changing  our  approach.  We  must  reinvent Disneyland as we look towards 2020!

This is the meaning of the new initiative that I have already shared and launched with our  teams. Today I want to take the time to talk to you about this approach.

It is based on four strategic priorities:

•      One:  Placing  our  customers  at  the  heart  of  all  our  thinking,  at  the  heart  of  all  our  strategies, at the heart of all changes.

•      Two: Building on excellence in service and on the commitment of our Cast Members. This  is what makes the Disney difference.

•      Three:  Being  a  financially  solid  company.  For  this,  we  need  to  adapt  our  culture,  our  structure and our commercial approach to be bolder and more agile.

•   Lastly: Continuing to capitalize on the strength of our brand and our franchises.

We have considerable creative potential!

In addition to Disney, we have Marvel,  Pixar, and Star Wars! “Season of the Force,” which  launched last January, is a perfect example!

To succeed, we must respond and be perceived as more innovative, more enterprising, more  agile and more digital!  Yes, this is an ambitious strategy and one that will take time; and let  me  add  that  I  have  engaged  the  whole  company  and  the  steering  committee  in  that  direction.

We are determined, and we are confident in our ability to implement it.

I spoke of 2020, but let’s come back now to 2017.

2017 is – as I’m sure you know – the 25th anniversary of your park!

Anniversaries  are  great  opportunities  to  reconnect  with  our  guests  and  to  attract  new  customers. Our attendance has always increased during these anniversaries.

Take a look at all the festivities we have planned for this celebration.


This year we are celebrating not only the 25th anniversary of our resort, but also the 30th  anniversary of the agreement signed with the French state. This partnership represents the  first stone in the Disneyland Paris structure, which laid the foundation of our development.

It  is  built  around  a  shared  ambition:  to  make  Disneyland  Paris  the  reference  in  European  tourist  destinations  and  to  contribute  to  the  influence  of  Paris,  and  more  generally,  of  France.

In  my  meetings  with  our  elected  officials,  I  have  seen  first-hand   how  the  destiny  of  Disneyland Paris, Paris and France are intertwined.

All three were represented at our celebration ceremonies: from President François Hollande  to the Chairwoman of the Regional Council of Ile-de-France, Valérie Pécresse, and including  representatives of the European Commission and the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.

France  is  a  wonderful  country  that  the  whole  world  dreams  of  visiting.  For  30  years,  Disneyland Paris has taken strength from the wealth of its heritage,  its cultural diversity and  the energy of its people.

It  seems  natural  to  us,  in  return,  to  contribute  to  the  economic,  social  and  societal  development of the region.  It is in this spirit that we conducted a contribution study, with  the French government, that enables us to measure this value creation.

Three figures highlight the findings of this contribution study:

–  First: we have had 320 million visitors over the last 25 years, which makes Disneyland Paris  the number one tourist destination in Europe

–  Second: 68 billion euros of added value have been generated by Disneyland Paris for the  French economy

– Third: 56,000 permanent jobs have been created directly and indirectly by Disneyland Paris.

We have a unique public-private partnership in Europe, which will continue into the future.

More  than  ever,  Disneyland  Paris  is  the  driver  of  the  tourism  of  tomorrow.  And  we  are  already  demonstrating  this,  with  the  upcoming  opening  of  “Villages  Nature”,   a  next- generation  tourism   project   designed   with  the   Pierre   et   Vacances   Group.   This   tourist  destination  will  offer  an  unprecedented  range  of  “green”  holidays  based  on  the  quest  for  harmony between Man and Nature. And it will bring lasting and sustainable strength to the  Disneyland Paris division, spearheading tourism policy in France.

Ladies, gentlemen, dear shareholders,

in conclusion,  let me convey to  you  the  sense of  honour  and  responsibility that motivates  me.

I took the reigns of your group more than 6 months ago already.

Together  with  the  Steering  Committee,  we  have  established  a  diagnosis  and  defined  a  strategic vision for 2020. We have shared it with the Supervisory Board and all the group’s  teams.

Collectively, we initiated an ambitious but realistic program.

Believe me, I am determined.

And,   supported   by   the   incredible   combination   of   talent   within   your   Group,   and   the  reaffirmed  commitment  of  The  Walt  Disney  Company,  I  am  confident  in  our  ability  to  improve our performance.

We are also fully committed to our responsibilities in promoting France as a destination.

It is also a tremendous opportunity to reinvent the tourism of tomorrow!

And who better than us to meet these challenges?!

We have a great power of attraction; we have unique creative skills; we have a spectacular  capacity for innovation; and we have a park that is now transformed to celebrate its 25th  birthday!

Ladies, gentlemen, dear shareholders,

Thank you very much.

Source: Euro Disney S.C.A.

Author: Salon Mickey Blog

News from Disneyland Paris and The Walt Disney Company

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