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Thursday November 29, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

The company that runs the Scottish ski area is in administration after suffering ‘unsustainable' cash flow problems.


It will have a signficant impact for the the largest ski area in Scotland, the local community and those that ski and snowboard in the UK.

But it is hardly a surprise.

The extended closure of the funicular mountain railway for safety reasons is cited as the cause.

It is rather a representation of past errors.

Joint administrators, Blair Milne and Derek Forsyth, partners with Campbell Dallas, say they will continue to trade the business while having discussions with a potential purchaser for a sale of the business and assets as a going concern.

There are no immediate plans to make any redundancies.

Watch this space.

Cairngorm Mountain Limited (CML) employs around 70 staff and had a turnover of £3.5m to 31st December 2017.

"Due to the extended closure of the Funicular Railway at Cairngorm Mountain, for safety reasons, the business has become unsustainably loss-making," Blair Milne, Business Recovery Partner with Campbell Dallas said.

"The Directors of the business had been in discussions to try to find suitable solutions, including a managed transfer of the business to another party, however those negotiations did not progress.

"Under mounting cash flow and creditor pressures the Directors were left with no alternative other than to place the business into administration.

"The joint administrators will be seeking to achieve a sale of the remaining business on a going concern basis as early as possible."

Cairngorm MountainCairngorm Mountain - photo Aviemore & Glenmore Community Trust













Cairngorm has been run by CML, a subsidiary of the leisure company, Natural Retreats, who took over running the resort in 2014.

We reported on it at the time:

The owner of the land is the Scottish Government development agency, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The decision to go into administration is the latest in a long list of upheavals for the crisis-hit Scottish ski area,.

The problems with the funicular have already had a series of knock-on effects, including the closure of the mountain's ski school this winter, with the loss of work for around 50 instructors and staff.


The latest development could, however, be an opportunity for locals who have long called for Cairngorm to be taken over and run by the local community.

They're highly criticial of the way the mountain has been run.

"Natural Retreats seem to have been flouting the rules of the contract since they took over, so it is very welcome to hear they have gone into administration," said Mike Shepherd who used to run the Ski School at Cairngorm before Natural Retreats took over and he lost his job.

"Pretty much anyone else could run it better. I hope HIE act responsibly and bring in a good management team to run it."

"They need to consult with the local community."

 Mike Shepherd when he ran the Cairngorm ski schoolMike Shepherd when he ran The Ski School at Cairngorm















The Aviemore and Glenmore Community Trust, which was set up in 2017 with the aim of taking over the ownership and running of the Cairngorm Estate, says its thoughts are with all the staff and local businesses who are creditors of CML.

"We are happy to hear that HIE is supporting the hill and operating it as a going concern," one of its directors, Mike Dearman, told PlanetSKI.

"I don't think anyone is shedding a tear for Natural Retreats Wilmslow but the challenge is what comes next.

"Our job is to work closely with HIE and convince them that community ownership is the way forward and find a way to make it happen."

PlanetSKI understands that a community takeover is unlikely to be possible in the immediate future.

With uncertainty over the future of the funicular and the potentially huge costs required to fix it, it's thought that only a body like HIE could take on the responsibility in the short term.

The Trust says it will liaise closely with HIE over the coming weeks.

There's been swift reaction on the Facebook page of the pressure group, Save The Ciste:

Save the Ciste FB reactionFacebook reaction

















Charlotte Wright, chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, issued this statement following today's announcement.

"The directors' decision to put CairnGorm Mountain Ltd (CML) into administration is an outcome that HIE had anticipated, and we are well prepared.

"Our first priority is staff members and their families, as well as other local people who will be affected by this decision.

"We are already in direct contact with the administrator, and confident that Cairngorm will remain open for business.

"Clearly, this is not the outcome that anyone wanted when CML became the operator.

"However, with local support, we are confident that the situation can be turned around and we will see Cairngorm flourish again as a fantastic asset for this area, its economy and its people.

"£1m worth of snowmaking equipment, paid for by HIE, has arrived and will be set up on site as soon as possible.

"This will provide reliable snow cover for visitors on the lower slopes, creating good conditions for beginners and families especially.

"It also means that when there is suitable snow on the higher slopes, more experienced skiers can access those levels by tow."

Snow factorySnow factory - a similar one has arrived at Cairngorm













As owner of the Cairngorm Estate HIE was in charge of operations from 2009 until 2014, when CML was appointed as operator for the resort following international procurement.

The funicular is the main access to the top of the hill and opened on Christmas Eve 2001.

It cost around £20m and carries around 300,000 tourists, skiers and snowboarders every year.

Cairngorm funicularCairngorm funicular












At 2 kilometres in length, it is the highest mountain railway in the United Kingdom.

The funicular has been closed since Monday 1st October to allow for a detailed assessment of the structure that supports the tracks.

These investigative works are continuing.

It's thought likely that it will remain closed all winter.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news


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