Crown Sydney appoints operations veteran to run its new venture

By William Brown Updated
Crown Sydney appoints operations veteran to run its new venture

An operations veteran from outside the casino space has been recruited to oversee Crown Resorts’ newest venture in Sydney.

The Australian reports that the beleaguered company has hired Simon McGrath, Accor Pacific’s boss, to look after its Crown Sydney operations and its luxury tower at Barangaroo that is yet to be licensed.

McGrath currently manages 397 hotels, 67,276 guest rooms and 18,000 employees at Accor.

He has been working in the tourism and hospitality sector for more than 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 2020, he became the chief executive officer of Pacific operations and a member of Accor’s executive committee.

McGrath tasked with leading Crown Sydney through tough times

Crown chief executive Steve McCann said he was excited to welcome McGrath to the executive team.

“Simon is a highly regarded executive who will bring to Crown his wealth of experience in the operation of luxury hotels and global hospitality businesses,” Mr McCann said.

“With Simon’s stewardship, we are confident that Crown Sydney will set the standard of excellence for all of our customers and guests”.

An inquiry by the New Sales Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority into Crown’s operations ruled the company was not fit to hold a licence at the $2.2 billion Barangaroo property.

There were allegations of money laundering, as well as links to organised crime at its Perth and Melbourne venues.

The December 2020 finding prevented Barangaroo’s opening and the company was given the task of reorganising its operations in order to obtain a licence.

McGrath will oversee Crown Sydney and Crown Resorts’ hospitality operations, reporting directly to group chief executive and managing director Steve McCann.

This new appointment comes off the back of 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.

Peter Crinis leaves Crown after 24 years

McGrath replaces Peter Crinis, who resigned from the operations role in July after just six months, but he had been with the company for 24 years.

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 licence following the notorious Bergin inquiry, will still be open.

Since the NSW inquiry handed down its finding, the organisation 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 licences to the property until June 2022.

Last month, the Victorian royal commission into Crown found that the company had an “alarming catalogue of wrongdoing”.

However, it was able to retain its licence for two years, serving what is essentially probation until regulators are convinced the company is turning things around.

A royal commission is ongoing into the company’s Perth casino in Western Australia.

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