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Tuesday June 25, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

The oldest independent ski tour operator has been bought by NUCO Travel. It comes at a changing time for the UK snowsports industry. UPDATED

NUCO Travel is the UK's leading university snowsports specialist.

It was founded in 2012 and has taken more than 130,000 young people to the mountains in its first seven years.

The price paid has not been revealed.

Erna Low Travel was founded in 1932 by Miss Erna Low, pioneer of the British ski holiday and creator of the British ski chalet party.

The sale comes as the CEO Joanna Yellowlees-Bound retires from Erna Low, after 37 years at the helm.

Joanna Yellowlees-Bound has owned Erna Low Travel since Miss Low's retirement in the late 1990's.

"Just as Erna favoured me to take over her life's work, I am now delighted to pass on the mantle to the next generation, and who better than an innovative and thriving ski company such as NUCO Travel, which I have known since its inception and where I am a minority shareholder," said Joanna Yellowlees-Bound.

The Managing Director of Erna Low,  Jane Bolton, will stay on.

Joanna Yellowlees-Bound outside the Erna Low officesJoanna Yellowlees-Bound outside the Erna Low offices




















"I am excited to bring Erna Low which is such a respected family brand, with their experienced and talented team, into the NUCO family," said NUCO Managing Director, Danny Nugent.

"I know both companies will benefit from working together and look forward to ensuring even more snowsports enthusiasts enjoy the very best holidays with us."

Erna Low will continue to be based in its London offices where it has nine staff.

NUCO Travel is based in Cheadle near Manchester.

Yellowlees-Bound will remain as owner and CEO of Erna Low Property.

The sale comes at a challening time for the UK snowsports industry with many tour operators cutting the number of holidays on offer.

Last winter Erna Low decided to focus solely on France as we reported at the time:

This year Flexiski has been bought by Hotelplan, the company that owns Inghams, Esprit Ski and Ski Total.
With a poor exchange rate, Brexit concerns, rising employment costs overseas and competition from other types of holiday the ski industry is in choppy waters.

A biography of Erna Low written by the author Mark Frary was published back in 2012.

We spoke to Joanna today and had two questions for the industry veteran:

1) What changes have you seen in skiing over the years?

"Looking back over the last 37 years in the ski industry, I can largely see good changes - in particular with the way ski lifts/ski resorts are run.

Goodbye to the dreaded T-bars that dragged you sideways up the slopes leaving you peppered with bruises, and Hello to state-of-the art heated ski lifts with wifi - everything geared towards comfort and ease.

My pink striped C&A ski suit from 1982 is now replaced by beautiful fashionable snug fitting ski wear.

Most of all, what is rewarding about working in the ski industry are the people themselves - skiers are an intrepid bunch, passionate about their sport - and customer care is still of the essence - stronger than ever.

Erna Low Travel clients have not changed over the years - and how lovely it has been in more recent years to host the grandchildren of my original clients from the 80's on ski holidays.

2) Where is the future of the ski market going?

I see the future of snowsports being led by vibrant young companies like NUCO Travel who - as with our generation of ski companies - place huge importance on customer care and holiday enjoyment.

The companies that will continue to grow and thrive will have this as their ethos.

Snowsports is a very personal experience, clients want to know they are booking with companies that are passionate about the sport, paired with excellent technology to enhance their holiday."

Here at PlanetSKI we wish Joanna all the very best.

Joanna Yellowlees-Bound Joanna Yellowlees-Bound














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