Cirque du Soleil to lay off 400
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013 4:20PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 17, 2013 9:30AM EST
MONTREAL - The Cirque du Soleil, a local entertainment powerhouse with 5,000 employees worldwide, has announced 400 layoffs, mostly at its Montreal headquarters.
The layoffs are in addition to the 50 Montreal workers let go just before Christmas.
“The overhaul at Cirque du Soleil really touches every post, every budget and every function,” said representative Renée-Claude Ménard,
She cited the higher Canadian dollar and production costs as being among the reasons for the layoffs.
The company loses $3 million for every cent that the Canadian dollar rises against the greenback, as 99 percent of the company’s revenue comes from outside the country, she noted.
The layoffs will cost the jobs of at least one tenth of the 2,000-employee workforce at the company’s Montreal headquarters.
The Cirque du Soleil is currently staging 19 productions around the world and is planning a new Las Vegas show to kick off in May.
The company set new records for total revenues, which exceeded $1 billion, and ticket sales at 14.2 million, yet it still lost money in 2012.
In August 2008, co-founder Guy Laliberté sold 20 percent of the Cirque du Soleil to Dubai World in the hopes that it would lead to more investment but Dubai World had its own financial struggles and is more of a “silent partner,” according to Ménard.
In 2011, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Highbridge Principal Strategies invested tens of millions of dollars to help fund two Cirque shows: Iris and Los Angeles Zarkana in New York. Neither was a hit: Iris is shutting down on Saturday and Zarkana is being moved to Las Vegas in hopes it will prove more popular there.
Since the end of 2011, three other permanent Cirque shows closed due to poor attendance: Zed (Tokyo) Zaia (Macao) and Viva Elvis ( Las Vegas).
Ménard assured a crowded press conference that Guy Laliberté still has his old fire and that has no intention of leaving the Cirque.
“The Cirque du Soleil is not for sale,” she said.