Crown Resorts is hoping an industry veteran from outside the casino operator’s ranks will help put it on the right track. The beleaguered company hired Simon McGrath, Accor Pacific’s boss, to oversee its Crown Sydney operations, as well as the luxury tower at Barangaroo that is yet to be licensed.
McGrath currently manages 397 hotels, 62,276 guest rooms and 18,000 employees at Accor. He has been working in the hospitality and tourism sector for over 30 years, including in Malaysia and Thailand.
According to Accor, McGrath joined the company when he became the GM at Sofitel Reef Casino Cairns in 2005. Two years later, he assumed the title of VP Operations when he began overseeing the company’s hotels in Australia.
In 2012, McGrath became the chief operating officer for the entire Pacific region and has continued to hold leadership roles on different tourism boards across the Pacific. In October of last year, he became the CEO of Pacific operations and a member of Accor’s executive committee.
Crown Changing of the Guard Continues
An inquiry by New South Wales (NSW) into Crown’s operations ruled that the company was not fit to hold a license at the $2.2-billion Barangaroo property. There were allegations of money laundering as well as links to organized crime at Perth and Melbourne venues. The December 2020 finding prevented Barangaroo’s opening, and the company was given the task of reorganizing its operations in order to obtain a license.
Simon McGrath to oversee Crown Sydney and Crown Resorts’ hospitality operations, reporting directly to group CEO and Managing Director Steve McCann.
This has included a purge of Crown’s board members and senior management. In May, Steve McCann, former chief executive at Lendlease, was appointed as the new group CEO. McGrath becomes the latest executive to join the company, not only to lead Crown Sydney but also to be Crown’s group head of hospitality. He replaces Peter Crinis, who resigned from the position in July after just six months. However, Crinis had been with the company for 24 years.
Preparing for New Challenges
McGrath will begin his employment in February 2022. It is uncertain if Crown’s Barangaroo casino, which was closed in February after Crown Sydney was found unsuitable for its casino license following the notorious Bergin Inquiry, will still be open. Since then, it has been working with NSW’s gaming regulator to regain its suitability.
However, the property has been open for non-gaming since December 2020. The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority recently extended three interim liquor licenses to the property until June 2022.
Last month, the Victorian royal commission into Crown found that the company had an “alarming catalog of wrongdoing.” However, it was able to retain its license for two years, serving what is essentially probation until regulators are convinced the company is turning things around.
A royal commission continues into the company’s Western Australian location.
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