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Last Updated: Friday, 13 February, 2004, 14:26 GMT
Ski centres up for sale
Glenshee Ski Centre
Glenshee is one of five ski areas to have struggled in recent times
Two of Scotland's best known ski centres are being put on the market after losing 1m in two years.

Staff at Glencoe and Glenshee were told on Friday that this would be their last season under the present management.

The Glenshee Chairlift Company blamed the mild winter and lack of snow in recent years.

A spokesman said it made the decision reluctantly but believed skiing could continue at both Glencoe and Glenshee.

The company said it would do all it could to assist a successful takeover of either or both resorts.

The announcement came as it emerged that the Cairngorm funicular railway had cost 20m of taxpayers' money - some 5m more than was estimated when the project began.

Public pressure

The Economist magazine issued a warning over the future of skiing in Scotland due to warmer winters and dwindling profits.

The Glenshee Chairlift Company had announced the closure of Glencoe in November.

However, the resort won a reprieve after public pressure when it was decided to open at weekends with volunteer staff.

The directors now believe the two resorts would benefit commercially if they were under the control of new operators.
David Whitton
Glenshee Chairlift Company
The 200-hectare resort was Scotland's first commercial ski centre when it opened in 1956.

It has two permanent staff supported by 15 part-time staff and up to 32 members of a volunteer weekend ski patrol team.

Glenshee has the UK's largest lift system, employing 11 permanent staff and more than 140 part-time and seasonal workers.

The company conceded that things would have to change under new owners, with one of the options being part-time operation when there is snow.

The owners said they had lost 500,000 in each of the last two years.

'Dramatic times'

Company spokesman David Whitton said: "The decision has been prompted in part by lack of snow in recent years and the particularly mild winter this year, coupled with a cost base to support seven day opening despite these conditions.

"Having considered their options the directors now believe the two resorts would benefit commercially if they were under the control of new operators.

Skiiers
Snow for skiing is becoming scarce due to climate change

"They have undertaken to do all they can to assist any parties interested in exploring the options for either location."

Recent winter seasons have seen Scotland's five ski areas struggle with lack of snow.

Cairngorms campaigner Bill Wright said the future of Scotland's skiing industry appeared far from secure.

He said: "The situation is extremely worrying given that both Glenshee and Glencoe are to go on the market.

"These are pretty dramatic times for downhill skiing and frankly the situation is verging on crisis."

At Glenshee they have built a golf course, with quad biking and mountain biking also growing in popularity.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Craig Anderson reports
"Scotland's ski centres face a battle to ensure their businesses don't slide downhill"



SEE ALSO:
Cairngorm rail funding under fire
13 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Ski centre gets weekend reprieve
16 Dec 03  |  Scotland
Glencoe closure sparks ski debate
28 Nov 03  |  Scotland
Glencoe ski resort closed
27 Nov 03  |  Scotland
Ski centre plan gathers pace
19 Aug 03  |  Scotland


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