2023 CEO Report

April 12, 2024

Dear members,

2023 was a year of mixed emotions for Forestville RSL Club. A solid financial result was tinged with some sadness when, in late October, we made the very difficult decision to end Bowls at the club.  The counter balance here is that we again provided financial and/or ‘in-kind’ support of $161,027 to various welfare, community, and sporting groups in 2023.  This is in addition to the fundraising opportunities we provided to several sporting groups, through trivia nights, barefoot bowls, raffles and ANZAC Day Two-Up.  Higher interest rates and cost-of-living pressures across every level of the community also presented challenges for businesses, particularly in the ever-changing Hospitality sector.  Finally, the proposed redevelopment of the club site was exciting, challenging and time-consuming but predominantly satisfying, as we plot a new financial, operational and sustainable future for the club.

From a financial perspective, the club achieved good results across the key financial measurement tools relevant to our industry.  In a very competitive marketplace we attained a very pleasing Earnings Before Interest Taxation, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) result. Bar figures were sound, notwithstanding a great deal of market discounting at neighbouring pubs and clubs.  Our contract caterers too benefitted from locals seeking a wholesome dining experience outside of the high end restaurants.

The proposed club redevelopment has progressed, and we are now only a matter of weeks away from submitting a Development Application (DA) to Council.  We have assembled a very experienced team of consultants to ensure members achieve the best possible outcome from the redevelopment.  The club-appointed sub-committee and consultants are working tirelessly with the design of the club and theIndependent Living Units (ILU’s) to ensure we deliver a very high quality result that will serve the community for many years to come.  Interestingly two more local clubs, Dee Why RSL Club and the Builders Club Dee Why, have both recently announced new property developments where new ILU’s are the focus.  Dee Why RSL have flagged a new development that will add significantly to their existing Independent Living complex, where they have a ‘wait list’ of over 200 people. The Builders Club development will see a new club and approximately 50ILU’s built on their existing landholding in Dee Why.  These clubs join many other NSW Clubs who have embarked on, or who are currently navigating, similar business propositions as clubs seek to diversify their revenue streams away from a dependence on gaming.  

The customer experience for businesses such as ours is largely determined by the quality and attitude of our staff.  One of the very pleasing aspects of our staff recruitment is the number of ‘locals’ that join us straight from school and gain important work and life skills while they undertake tertiary study or simply work through a ‘gap year’.  Good staff need and deserve supportive, honest and balanced leadership.  In this regard, I could not wish for a better Leadership Team than David Whiteley, Charlie Coluccio and Malcolm Bickley.  Every day they go above and beyond what is reasonably expected to maintain the successful operations of the club. This is especially true given the current time demands on me, as CEO, that come with the task of driving the club redevelopment. To them and all of our staff a very sincere ‘thank you’ for your dedication to providing a safe, happy and profitable environment for our members and guests.

The other vital component for successful clubs is having a committed and engaged Board of Directors. Clubs are highly regulated businesses. This regulation brings with it a great deal of responsibility. On-going training, compliance, governance and regulatory matters, out-of-hours time demands and, inevitably, very difficult decisions are all an everyday part of being a Director at our club.   Fortunately, the club’s management has a wonderfully supportive Board, headed by Tony Mooney as President. Tony is a man of great integrity who brings an unbiased and logical approach to the role of President.  He is very ably supported by a Board that demonstrate composure, excellence, and initiative at all times.  On behalf of the staff and club members, a hearty ‘thanks’ to you all.

The final but extremely important part of any business is you, the patrons.  Without you there simply is no business.  So, thank you all for choosing Forestville RSL Club as your venue of choice. We will never take your patronage for granted and will always look to provide a healthy, fun and value-for-money experience.

See you at the club!

Best regards,

Ian Thomson