May 30, 2016 How is Allas Sea Pool doing six months after crowdfunding?
Invesdor visited Helsinki Allas’ annual general meeting to hear the latest news and opening plans for the summer.
Sea spa Allas Sea Pool, which is currently under construction next to the Helsinki market square, was one of last year’s large crowdfunding successes. The mother company Helsinki Allas Oy raised a massive 810,800 euros in September–November of 2015, gaining almost 400 new shareholders.
Helsinki Allas Oy’s first annual general meeting (AGM) with a large owner base was held on April 28th at culture factory Korjaamo in Helsinki. Invesdor visited the meeting to hear how the project is going and to see how other companies with large numbers of shareholders run their general meetings. There were approximately 60 shareholders present at the meeting.
Since the crowdfunding campaign, Helsinki Allas Oy has hired three employees and started the sales of B2B services. Raoul Grünstein, who has been at the helm of the project since the beginning, announced that he would be stepping down from the position of CEO once the construction phase is finished. Additionally Grünstein promised that Helsinki Allas Oy will engage in active shareholder communication in the future, at minimum with a monthly shareholder newsletter.
The major changes in Allas’s operations are related to scheduling, which is typical of large construction projects. During the construction of the Sea Pool, the above-ground contractor was replaced, resulting in delays. On one hand, the replacement had to do with delays with loans and, on the other, the contractor’s capacity issues. As a result of the replacement, the Sea Pool will not be open in May, as originally planned. Instead the Sea Pool area will have a staggered opening starting in June:
- June 2016: Wing building, cafe pavillion, grass field and beach open
- August 2016: Pools, saunas, and Cleantech Finland showroom open
- April 2017: All buildings and services completed
Due to the changes in schedule, the summer season of 2016 will be short, which will negatively affect the first operative year's forecasts. To compensate for this, Allas has received a year's extension for the rental term from the city of Helsinki. Grünstein said the new lease ends in September 2024.
The other significant change to the company’s plans since the crowdfunding campaign has to do with the Sea Pool’s restaurant business. To reduce Helsinki Allas Oy’s business risks, management of the restaurant business will be done by a third party in partnership with Helsinki Allas. Therefore, Helsinki Allas Oy will have no restaurant business of its own, but it will instead rent the premises to a partner who will manage the restaurants according to a jointly decided concept. The outsourcing should not negatively affect Allas Oy’s margins, because the partner will be paying a rent tied to revenue, matching the margins forecasted in the company’s budget.
The partner managing the Sea Pool’s restaurant business will be Kim Heiniö’s Soupster Family. With 16 restaurants, including the restaurant chain Dylan, around the Helsinki metropolitan region, Heiniö could be called a veteran of the restaurant business.
Heiniö himself visions the Sea Pool’s main restaurant as the new ”top of the Torni tower”, a place where every Helsinkian takes their international guests. Based on what we heard at the general meeting, this does not seem far-fetched. The Allas Sea Pool has an excellent chance to position itself as the new focal point of leisure and culture in Helsinki.