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Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 17:32 GMT
Gerbeau: Genius or journeyman?
'PY' Gerbeau: "I would do it all again"
Pierre-Yves Gerbeau first arrived at the Dome in February last year. As its popular chief executive he weathered the storm of criticism the Dome attracted, but he was relieved of financial responsibilities for the ailing attraction after seven months in the job.

Now Mr Gerbeau - popularly known as PY - has criticized the government for "mishandling" the Dome sale. He says he has a consortium in place to take over the Dome if the 125m bid by the Legacy consortium falls through.

He says he has both the money and the vision to turn the Dome into a major entertainment venue which would attract top performers like Madonna.

Initially a disaster, Euro Disney has turned around

During his time at Britain's most famous beleaguered attraction Mr Gerbeau tried to boost visitor numbers and improve the Dome's public image.

Attendance figures rose in the summer of 2000 but not to anticipated heights - by the end of the year the Dome had only attracted about half of its 12 million projected visitors.

'A very able guy'

When Mr Gerbeau became the new boss of the Dome, he was first touted by its spin doctors as the "whizz-kid" who saved Disneyland Paris.

But he was also described by a sceptical press as "the mysterious Monsieur Nobody".

Sources created an impression of a capable and trusted manager but one who was more of a diligent journeyman than a dynamic business genius.

"He is a very able guy, but there is no way you could say he turned Euro Disney around," said one.

"There are maybe three or four people who could be credited with doing that, because of their position in the hierarchy. He is not one of them."

From sport to business

The 35-year-old began his career in 1984 as a professional hockey player.

He played in European and world championships before a serious injury halted his career in 1989, and he turned to business instead.
Queuing: Gerbeau sorted them for Disney, but can he for the Dome?
He found a job with TPS Conseil in Paris, a management consultancy which specialises in creating links between sporting and business managers.

He joined Disneyland Paris in 1991, aged 25, as a management consultant and rose rapidly, being promoted five times before reaching the rank of vice-president in 1997.

Colleagues reportedly described him as a brilliant "homme de terrain", or operations man, rather than a managerial genius.

He was part of a team of six directors in charge of the technical side of the attraction, with particular responsibility for ticketing, the safety and maintenance of attractions, and sorting out the queues.

Gilles Pelisson, chairman and chief executive officer of Disneyland Paris, said Mr Gerbeau had been "top of the league" and showed "outstanding leadership and management skills".

He left Disney in 1998 to study for an MBA at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris.

'Very competent manager'

Jean-Jacques Rosser, who taught Mr Gerbeau, said he had been a "very serious, dedicated student".

"Mr Gerbeau is a very competent manager. There's no doubt about that."

Mr Gerbeau has acknowledged the uphill battle he faced during his time at the Dome. He said he had no idea there would be such a "media frenzy" over the project.

But, ever upbeat, he said towards the end of last year: "At the end of the day it is worth fighting for. Crazily enough, I would do it all again."

Sadly his plan to make the Dome "the hottest ticket in town" was not borne out by events.

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