HIE resumes control at Cairngorm
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) resumed control of operations at Cairngorm Mountain on Friday 14 December.
HIE owns Cairngorm Estate and had leased the resort to operator Cairngorm Mountain Limited (CML), which went into administration on 29 November 2018.
The agency established a new subsidiary and has reached agreement with the joint administrators, Blair Milne and Derek Forsyth, partners with Campbell Dallas, to acquire the business and assets of CML.
Staff and other assets are transferring to the new company, trading as Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Limited. The new company is honouring season tickets purchased for this winter.
HIE has contracted support from accountancy firm, Scott Moncrieff, to include a business turnaround specialist as interim chief executive to run the firm until the end of March.
Charlotte Wright, HIE chief executive, said engagement with local business and community groups will continue to be important going forward.
“We are very pleased to have worked with the administrators to achieve a really positive outcome from a highly challenging situation," she added. "The deal that we’ve reached will protect jobs and bring stability to the business, which plays an important role in the wider local economy.
“The immediate focus of the new operating company is to ensure the best possible experience for visitors this winter, particularly while the funicular is inactive, and bring some stability for staff and local businesses that rely on Cairngorm. This includes operating the new snow making equipment and ski tows, as well as catering and facilities at the base station.”
Blair Milne, joint administrator and business recovery partner with Campbell Dallas, said: “We are pleased to have secured an early sale of the business and assets of CML. The deal ensures continuity of operations and employment at Cairngorm Mountain and we would like to thank all parties for their support as we worked towards securing a going concern sale.”
Frequently asked questions
We will add to the list below as and when we have more information.
Q1. What is the outcome of the administration process?
A: Following extensive discussions with the administrator we have now purchased the assets of the previous operating company. Highlands and Islands Enterprise has set up a new subsidiary called Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd which is now operating services at the resort.
Q2. What does this mean for staff?
A: Existing staff jobs have all been protected and they have been TUPE transferred over to the new subsidiary company, Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd or CMSL.
Q3. Who will be heading up the new operating company at Cairngorm?
HIE has secured Ross Harris, through business advisers Scott Moncrieff, as interim Chief Executive at CMSL. He will be leading the company’s operations over the winter months, while options for a longer term solution are reviewed.
Q4. How will the community be able to get involved in future operations at Cairngorm?
We are working closely with the Cairngorm Funicular Response Group whose input and support have been invaluable in addressing the recent challenges that followed closure of the funicular. We recognise both the appetite and need for effective community involvement and will be considering options on how best to achieve this.
Q5. When will the season start?
A. The snow making equipment arrived from Italy in November, and is on site at Cairngorm. After a week of testing, it was properly commissioned on Sunday 9th December and has now started snow production. It is estimated that, to have sufficient snow, the equipment will need to be operating 24 hours a day over the next couple of weeks. It is too early at this stage to fix an exact date, but we hope to be ready to welcome skiers in time for Christmas, or just shortly afterwards.
Q6. What type of ski offering will be available this season without the funicular?
A. Snow making at lower levels will create great conditions for beginners and family groups, and ski tows will be running to provide access to the higher slopes – as long as suitable snow cover is available there.
Q7. Is the resort closed?
Cairngorm will open for winter sports once sufficient snow has been manufactured to enable skiers to access the runs. An exact start date for the season is still to be determined, but we very much hope this will be before Christmas, or shortly afterwards. The shop and café in the base station will be open for business.
Q8. What happens to people who bought season passes from the old company?
The new company, CMSL, will honour all season tickets that were bought from CML for the 2018/19 season. We are not able to offer refunds, however.
Q9. When will the outcome of the funicular structural survey be made available?
We have received interim findings from the specialist engineers, and expect delivery of the final report within days. This will require careful study, and we are pleased to have been offered assistance from civil engineers at the Highland Council, whose expertise will be valuable. We will aim to share more information once we have had an opportunity to digest the findings in detail and consider our options for next steps.
You can read the administrator's news release and HIE's statement here >