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Hotelplan UK To Close Office & Cut Jobs

The company, which owns the ski brands Inghams, Ski Total, Esprit Ski, Flexiski and Santa’s Lapland, is to reduce the size of the business and is considering cutting jobs by 27% due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 crisis. 

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The UK arm of the Hotelplan Group currently runs its ski brands from Godalming in Surrey, the office it is proposing to close.

It also has a base near York for its Inntravel business and in Farnborough from where it runs its adventure travel business Explore Worldwide.

The UK operations will be ‘smaller and more focussed in the short-term’.

The company says the ‘regretful’ decision to close the Godalming office and have a single office space in Farnborough follows a period of intensive discussions with its Swiss parent company around a wide range of scenarios for the future.

It will consult on job losses, which could result in the company cutting more than a quarter of its UK workforce.

It says it’s become clear in recent weeks that the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been, and continues to be, financially damaging for the business.

“The UK business was initially hit at the end of the winter ski season, with resort and border closures cutting the ski season short by some 6 weeks,” the company says in a news release issued this morning, Thursday 25th June.

“As of today, none of the UK brands has been able to operate any meaningful summer programme and any reopening of borders or cautiously phased-up flight schedules will not be enough to revive the business overnight.

“As a result, a wide-ranging strategic review has been undertaken and plans re-shaped in line with reduced demand.

“Each of the UK operations will be smaller and more focussed in the short-term.

“The business is also proposing the closure of the Godalming office and having one single office space in the South – Nelson House in Farnborough, a building which Hotelplan own and currently houses the Explore team.

“Teams will continue to work from home until the Farnborough office can safely accommodate both businesses and a more agile, flexible approach to home working is envisaged for the future.”

The company says a 45-day consultation process will begin on 1st July about the proposed changes in southern England and potential job losses of up to 27% across its UK business.

Flexiski

Hotelplan UK bought Flexiski in May 2019

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“We are now collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime,” said Hotelplan UK CEO Paul Carter.

“Yet even in these worst of circumstances, I have been both amazed and truly proud to see the very best of who we are during this period.

“Throughout, we have strived to do the right thing on all our brands; initially, in the extraordinary efforts to repatriate our guests and staff; and since, ensuring guests whose holidays have been cancelled are either re-booked on future trips, or offered a cash refund where no rebooking has been possible.

“The ongoing impact of COVID-19 means we will endure heavy losses this year, whereby previously we’ve always been profitable. As news of job losses across the industry intensifies, it is now clear that the damage will be significant.

“Throughout this process, we have done everything we can to protect jobs for as long as possible, including reviewing our brand portfolio, product range and office footprint, whilst above all protecting our award winning service.

“However, looking beyond the support of the UK job retention scheme, we face a set of circumstances where this is not enough to sustain us and we have exhausted all other options.

“For a company like ours, whose mission is centred around belonging, this is incredibly difficult to confront and accept. We have always believed the passion of our people make us stand out as distinctive and losing any of the team will cut us to the core.

“However heart-breaking these decisions may seem, they have become absolutely necessary, as we to continue to receive the long-term support of our parent company, Migros – the leading Swiss co-operative retailer.

“The news today is deeply saddening and I would personally like to thank all the teams, both in the UK and overseas, for their unwavering dedication, hard work and commitment when faced with the toughest of circumstances. I am also extremely grateful to all our suppliers, partners and industry friends who have shown us their support and loyalty throughout these challenging times.

“As we look to the future, I have no doubt we will get through this. We are already seeing a good number of guests transferring to next year, as well as new bookings for 2021.

“Our ongoing partnership with our travel agency colleagues remains a key part of this recovery and we will all rebuild our businesses and our industry together.”

Esprit Ski

Hotelplan UK owns family ski specialist, Esprit Ski

The announcement is a huge blow, though not unexpected.

Other brands are likely to be facing similar tough choices.

“It is inevitable that the ski industry will be significantly impacted by Covid-19,” said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.

“In some ways snowsports was lucky compared to other areas of the travel industry as the virus spread at the end of the season, but many still lost up to 25% of their business.

“The UK ski  industry has been going through a tough time in recent years with a change in people’s holiday habits, new employment laws for UK operators and of course the damage done by Brexit and its uncertainty.

“Next winter was always going to be tough and that was without the sledgehammer blow of the pandemic.

“There will be question marks over many other ski businesses and we can expect further job cuts and consolidation over the coming months.”

Update:

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