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A Reorganization at RAI Amsterdam

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RAI Amsterdam was shuttered on March 16 after the Dutch government enacted measures that prohibited events, conferences and exhibitions to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The significant impact of its closure has led RAI Amsterdam — expecting a loss of 20 million euros for 2020, or $22.68 million — to propose a reorganization to maintain its financial health.

Even as measures become somewhat relaxed in The Netherlands (the center can now host live events) RAI has recognized that holding events “depends on the ability and willingness of visitors, exhibitors, organizers and partners to travel,” according to a statement. That’s in addition to other risks that include measures that may be implemented if a second wave of Covid-19 calls for more additional, stringent interruptions in business.

For starters, the company has proposed cuts that will total approximately 25 million euros ($28.3 million) including the loss of 125 jobs — or 25 percent of its 483-person workforce. For those eligible, bonuses will be eliminated.

The massive conference center hosts around 500 events a year that draw around 1.5 million visitors; at the start of 2020, RAI expected the year to be its busiest to date. The opposite has been the case.

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"The outbreak of the Covid-19 has had an enormous impact on our operations," said RAI Amsterdam CEO Paul Riemens. "A reorganization is an extremely painful decision to have to take, but is crucial in order to make the company financially healthy again. We must act now in the interest of the future of the RAI. The corona crisis has significantly affected our reserves, and it is essential that we return to a financially healthy state as soon as possible. That will require us to go forward as a leaner organization and that will also reduce our risk if a new crisis should arise."

In addition to the job cuts, RAI said they are developing a long-term plan to ready the facility for the future. And the site’s importance to the city cannot be overlooked, according to Riemens.

"Every euro spent at the RAI equals around seven euros spent in Amsterdam on hotel accommodations and hospitality venues, museums and shops,” he said. “In other words, our events stimulate turnover and employment."

At the time of the this writing, the Metstrade show is still scheduled as an in-person event at RAI Amsterdam on November 17-19. 

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