Eight ski companies meet to prepare a strategy to cope with the impact of Britain leaving the EU. Plus – results of the Save The Seasonaire survey. NEW & UPDATED


The Brexit Ski Working Group met for the first time on Monday.

It already has the support of some major French businesses and is hoping to attract more members among some of the bigger UK tour operators.

“All of us are worried about the implications of Brexit,” Karen Broom Smith, a founding member of the group and co-owner of the luxury chalet firm, Purple Ski, told an industry conference in London on Tuesday.

Speaking at Ski Launch, she said the intention was “to mitigate the anticipated impact of leaving the EU and look at what we might be able to do to continue business if the worst should happen”.

Ski Launch 2017

Ski Launch 2017

The snowsports industry is overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit and fears the consequences:

The ski companies represented at meeting were Purple Ski, Family Ski Company, Ski Weekends, Mountain Sun, Ski Famille, Zenith Holidays, Mountain Heaven, and Meriski.

They were joined by European Pubs, which has two bars in Meribel in France.

Karen Broom Smith said the first meeting had established four main objectives:

  • Raise awareness of the potential impact of Brexit in the UK, France and other EU countries
  • Campaign for UK citizens to be able to work in the EU without visas or work permits and under the UK social security system
  • Involve as many tour operators as possible, including the big operators
  • Identify how best the sector might employ staff in future if the worst were to happen and there was no freedom of movement

The group has already got the biggest lift operator in Europe, Compagnie des Alpes on board.

It’s worried enough about the potential effect on its business of reduced skier numbers to have set up its own working group.

Compagnie des Alpes logo

Compagnie des Alpes owns and operates lifts in 10 resorts

Broom Smith said they hoped Compagnie des Alpes could “lobby and use their political sway”.

The conference was also given the initial results from the Save The Seasonaire survey, which closed last week.

Ski Famille chalet staff

Seasonaires at work

The survey asked employers how many seasonal staff they send to Europe each year under the EU Posted Workers Directive and what the financial implications might be if it is not retained or replaced.

The directive allows companies to post employees they have hired in the UK to the EU on a temporary basis to work.

These seasonaires work under UK law and employment contracts rather than those of the country to which they are sent.

The survey was sent to 5,592 firms and individuals.

Just over 200 people responded of whom 20 per cent said they would continue business but under a different model.

These were some of the comments they made:

  • Running our hotel would not be financially viable
  • I think there is a very good chance that the concept of a catered chalet holiday at reasonable prices will disappear completely
  • Our current business model would no longer be viable. We are having to look at ways to refocus our business activities to continue post Brexit
  • Will move the company to Eire and hire Irish workforce

According to the survey, around 10,000 seasonaires work abroad under the Posted Workers Directive (winter and summer) but, according to Michael Pettifer of MPI Brokers – the insurance company that organised the survey – that’s likely to be an underestimate.

“Some large companies did not respond so we believe this represents about 60-65% of the total,” he said.

The full results are still being analysed. They will be sent to the Department for Exiting the European Union.

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