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DAVID FROST: Now, they promised us one amazing day, but has the centre-piece of Britain's millennium celebrations done the country justice? There's no denying the Dome's structure is unique, some say magnificent, but New Year of course, that's last New Year, turned out to be a damp squib and things just got worse and worse for the beleaguered Dome, lurching from one crisis to the next, it became a laughing stock to some, a financial headache for others. But since February when he was brought in to rescue the project, one man has never wavered in his enthusiasm for the Dome and he joins me here today, it's P-Y himself, P-Y Gerbeau, who's about the only person who seems to have emerged from this whole thing with his reputation unimpaired. You are irrepressible and today here's a reason, Dome boss gets £100,000 bonus as attendance falls?
P-Y GERBEAU: That's news to me.
DAVID FROST: Is it news to you?
P-Y GERBEAU: Of course, yes, the Dome is not over, the year is not over, I'm a businessman, I've got obviously financial and business targets, pretty much everything I've achieved which is good news, but I mean it's a board decision, which my chairman is going to make the call too so I haven't been told this. So I think this is typical of my year, usually you know people gain, you know, front line attacks in your personal life and then at your business life without any figures, where is the fact and figures in there.
DAVID FROST: No, well it says £100,000 that's the figure that people will have read.
P-Y GERBEAU: What are the business targets David.
DAVID FROST: What was your target, what was the target you were set, how many attendances in a year?
P-Y GERBEAU: Well it was six million people and¿
DAVID FROST: Six million?
P-Y GERBEAU: Yeah, and overall if you look at the yield you look at the other revenue streams, just like¿proper English, retail, I'm beginning to be very British, so retail, catering, corporate hospitality, it's a whole cost-efficiency obviously, so it's a whole business and, and at the end of the day the successes around the Dome, and I cannot, can't wait for the dust to settle on the attraction because there's so many success stories out of there, people's success, six million people, 90 per cent of them say it's a great attraction.
DAVID FROST: But you were still talking back in Easter and so on, of ten million and eight million and, but you were shrewd enough to put six million in your contract?
P-Y GERBEAU: Well, no it was not in my contract actually but, but you know when we, when I came in I showed a revised business plan because we all know there was no market potential for ten, twelve or nine million out of there. I think, you know, if, if I had dreamed everybody, what would you have done differently, you rewind the clock, it's a time machine, you rewind the clock, you design a cost structure, you knew you had a market potential and this is one of the key things, market potential was between 3.5 to 6 million. You design a cost structure around four and then you say you're going to be a very fantastic attraction, not the ultimate thing in the world, and then you achieve six, that's a major success, so it's all about managing people's expectations.
DAVID FROST: We've never heard, we've never heard of 3.5 before?
P-Y GERBEAU: I think, I think, you know I wasn't there but I think there was, I think the key two difficult thing was 12 million figure and also design a multi-million business for one year.
DAVID FROST: But I mean if you had your time over again and, would you take the job at that point, a second time?
P-Y GERBEAU: It's been a very hard, pressure year I have to say but I mean there's so many, outside the business story, I think the biggest success story is the people, the people over there have stuck together, from the front line to the top management team and really pulled, a kind of Herculean effort to make it survive and at the end of the day six million people cannot be wrong. You do realise we, we're achieving the best visitor satisfaction, customer satisfaction on this market, maybe in any other industry.
DAVID FROST: Well our man Luke Jones went the other day and he certainly enjoyed it, but I mean what would you have done differently if you'd been there at the start back in '97, what would you have done differently, one thing you said is obviously you wouldn't have announced 12 million, but on the other hand, if they hadn't, if they hadn't claimed 12 million the figures wouldn't have added up and it wouldn't have happened at all, so they had to¿
P-Y GERBEAU: No I don't think so because then you decide, you know your market potential is between three and six and you sign for four, you have the flexibility to achieve six and then you announce four and you announce you're going to do double of the figures which is the best visitor attraction in the UK is Alton Towers which is a great product from the Tussaud group. And then say we're going to beat that by almost double, everybody will turn around and says wow that's impressive, and then you're going to say it's innovation and you could have built up a very good excitement. It's called being humble about numbers, we've learned the hard way, through another kind of visitor attraction, Euro Disney, so it's all about building expectations because at the end of the day the Dome is a very big popular success, six million people cannot be wrong¿
DAVID FROST: I don't think you can say popular success, you can say six million is a lot of people but no one has the impression of success, but more important point than that P-Y, are we going to still have you here, around, would you still like to take over this, the site on, after, after it closes, would you like to?
P-Y GERBEAU: Well as I said I am passionate about this business but at the end of the day I'm a businessman, I've been approached to lead a consortium to buy the place, I think we've proved and you know the Nomura, Guy Hands had the same vision I had, there is a long-term good business for the Dome as a visitor attraction, I'm pretty sure about that and investors, venture capitalists who are serious business people do the same, at the end of the day the government made a decision to close the competition so there's nothing you can do about that, and also as a chief executive of the place I have to make sure we come to a solvent liquidation and that's the whole point, with David James, my chairman, that we're really getting on that.
DAVID FROST: So would you like either running the Dome, the new Dome which your consortium might win, or running something else, are you going to stay in, stay in Britain now?
P-Y GERBEAU: I'd love to stay in UK, that's my priority at the moment, but you know as I said it's two weeks away which sounds like six months in any other business because we've got so much to do, it would be a shame to not finish it properly and we've got some business targets to achieve and also to deliver the experience for the 100,000 people who are going to come before Christmas.
DAVID FROST: Wonderful, when our viewers come you'll be up to seven and eight million, thank you very much.
P-Y GERBEAU: Thank you.
DAVID FROST: For joining us today P-Y. END
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