Banque Populaire Auvergne Rhône Alpes

Investments Survey 2014

Tuesday 17 February 2015

A study carried out in 2013-2014 by Savoie Mont Blanc Tourisme, which was presented at the "Rencontres de Grand Ski" meeting in January, shows that the ski area is by far the most important factor in custormers' choice of resort.

Enquête Investissement des domaines skiables 2014

In other words, all the players involved in the ski resort have a direct interest in the attractiveness of the ski area. Without minimising the importance of diversification, it is vital for all players to remember that the life of a resort - and thus its ability to keep its promise to provide employment in the surrounding territory - are determined principally by the quality of its ski area.
It is good fortune for the development of the territory that its principal determiner is defined by law as being a public good.

It is in all our interests to invest in the ski area to keep it attractive. Investment capacity must never be considered as a variable for balancing the books of the territory, the "available excess" after all other needs have been served. This would be a terrible inversion of priorities.
In order to invest, the ski area operator mobilises his resources - and if necessary the support of the local organisation. Furthermore, pressures on the finances of local organisations feed concerns about the ability of resorts to maintain their level of investment in ski areas.
Our companies, public or private, already bear a large number of constraints for the benefit of various parties. There are constraints which everyone is aware of: the State (which receives taxes and which has increased the flat rate of VAT twice in 2 years), local organisations (which receive other fees and royalties, notably the royalty on lifts), advertising organisations, the sports movement, etc. And there are other specific constraints, less visible but no less burdensome:
discounts and gratuities, snow-grooming and production, support for shuttles and roads. Care must be taken to prevent the burden of these costs from outweighing ski area operators' ability to invest.
Then there are administrative costs. Beyond the demands made by society, which everyone understands and to which we subscribe, we must ensure that our responsible, well thought-out development projects can be implemented with reasonable levels of complexity and in a reasonable time-frame.

Pierre Lestas, Président de Domaines skiables de FranceEven if the desire for simplification expressed at the highest levels of State is real, it takes time to put it into effect. Our business sector has made proposals, but at all events the simplification process needs to be simplified! Meanwhile, the machinery for making things more complex never stops.
At the "Grand Ski" exhibition last January, Minister Matthias Fekl underlined the importance and the excellence of mountain tourism. Business professionals and elected politicians must work together to preserve the tools with which the resorts work. This issue should take an important place in the mission entrusted some days ago to Annie Genevard, deputy for Doubs, and Bernadette Laclais, deputy for Savoie, to seek concrete operational proposals to draft a real second act to the Mountains law.

> Pierre Lestas,
Chairman of Domaines skiables de France



Investments Survey 2014: A break in the clouds

> Report prepared by Mickaël Frottier, Martin Mazza (Montagne Leaders), Laurent Reynaud (DSF), Emmanuelle Galiana and Jean Berthier (Atout France) - Photos Dovemed

Read the integral survey into the 247 issue of Montagne Leaders Surscribe to Montagne Leaders.


Geographical distribution of investments

New mechanical ski liftsNew mechanical ski lifts

167 380 116 €

Back to business!

Although the number of lifts cited is lower than last year (64 against 78 in 2013), the symbolic item for investments, new lifts, has increased against 2014: 167.4 M€!

The last decade has taught us not to draw conclusions from a single year's change in this sector. Operators have invested considerably more in this sector than last year (+24.13%), and by observing a longer period we can appreciate the importance of the amount invested in this item in 2014, which represents growth of 21.73% over the average for the period 2009-2013.

Evolution des recettes brutes des domaines skiables de 1990 à 2014Better still, it is a rise of 11.93% over the last 9 years (2005-2013). Let us not spoil our pleasure now that the general trend does not look so promising for the coming financial year.

Without going into details of the principal contracts of the year, we see things "returning to normal" in the installation of six-seat high-speed, slow-boarding chairlifts (TSD6), with 14 new lifts installed this year. Beside the TSD6, which has become the norm for resort development, the number of fixed-grip quad chairlifts seems to have stabilised at slightly less than ten installations per year.

After a very positive year in 2013, with 24 units, the number of drag lifts fell back to its normal range with 10 this year, while the number of moving-carpets seems to have stabilised with 26 in 2014, one fewer than last year.

(Some replies to the survey did not mention the number of lifts under construction; the distribution by constructor did not appear.)

Construction d’installations nouvelles de 1999 à 2014

Comparaison investissements : moyenne 2009-2013 et 2014 / Investissements sur les domaines skiables, comparés aux recettes

Neige de culture : évolution des investissements en ME


Top 10 des investissements de 2003 à 2014 en Millions d’Euros


Mathieu Dechavanne CEO of CMBMathieu Dechavanne
CEO of CMB  

1 : Chamonix – Les Houches : 29,97 M€

" This year was marked by a number of large operations, starting with the Plan Joran cable-car project, the work on the track of the Mont Blanc tramway, subsidised by the General Council, and the refurbishment of the Montenvers track. Turning to lifts, we have also replaced the cabins of the Lognan cable-car and the second leg of the Aiguille du Midi cable-car, not to mention numerous works on buildings and scenography. These large investments are fairly logical considering the characteristics of our sites: our service, enabling our customers to travel rapidly to altitudes above 2,000 m, could not exist without major, high-performance infrastructure, which requires financially demanding maintenance work.
We are honouring our commitments in the Chamonix ski areas investment plan and the public service out-sourcing contract for Aiguille du Midi, which we have recently extended. We are conscious of the age of our lift park, and we are starting to renew it to improve both its image and customer comfort.
The next three years will also see major operations aimed at developing a beginners' area and replacing the Parsa chairlift at Brévent; the Charamillon cable-car project at Le Tour; and the Mélèzes chairlift at Les Houches. We hope that the latter will be completed this summer. "


Pascal de Thiersant President of S3VPascal de Thiersant
President of S3V

2 : Courchevel – La Tania : 20,22 M€

" Courchevel – La Tania is a beacon resort for the economies of ski areas; we owe it to ourselves to be permanently on the ball.
Apart from our lift renewal strategy, we have two priorities: the comfort and safety of our customers on the one hand, and concern for our environmental impact on the other. On that point, the installation of the Aiguille du Fruit chairlift is typical: one lift to replace two, 11 pylons instead of 30, and a lower line to improve environmental integration, not to mention the energy savings obtained by operating one lift instead of two.
The new chairlifts, Forêt (with bubbles) and Aiguille du Fruit show how we work: installing lifts offering excellent skiing in any weather conditions. These structural equipments respond to our customers' expectations.
Investments at Courchevel – La Tania will be lower in 2015, mainly because of administrative times; however we will contue to develop our investment plan in a coherent, organised fashion. "


Pierre Josserand, CEO of SETAM, Chairman of STORPierre Josserand  
CEO of SETAM, Chairman of STOR

3 : Val Thorens – Orelle : 18,93 M€

" In 2014, our group SETAM STOR completed its investment programme for modernising the ski area which we started in 2007. We have invested 120 million euros over 7 years, mainly to replace old equipment with better, more comfortable modern units, designed to operate in windy conditions.
We have pursued our campaign to eliminate fixed grip chairlifts, replacing them with high-speed, slow-boarding lifts.
In certain cases, we have developed and introduced automatic operation of installations, for example the Caron and Cairn cable-cars and the new Thorens funitel line. The two TSDs at Portette and Plan de l’Eau, built in 2014, have replaced existing equipment; however the station sites have also been modified.
The total number of installations in the ski area has not increased with the completion of this investment campaign. "


The “Top 10”

This year the exceptions to the "Savoyard Tendency" in the Top 10 are the operators of La Pierre-Saint-Martin and Alpe d’Huez.
The three operators on the podium are all among those who invest regularly: in the last 10 years (2004-2013), Chamonix-Les Houches has only been out of the Top 10 three times, Courchevel-La Tania has been included four times, and Val Thorens-Orelle five times. (Note: L’Alpe d’Huez, which is not on the podium, has been in the Top 10 five times in the decade.)
In the last year (2014), the Seed-Investment/Turnover ratio has been very high for certain operators. The list is headed by: La Clusaz (77%), Châtel (75%) and Courchevel (44%). (Some caution is necessary with the rate of 475% recorded by La Pierre-Saint-Martin, in a year marked by record investments, since it was borne in large part by the General Council of Pyrénées Atlantiques.)
If this ratio is smoothed over the five previous years (2009-2013), we still find that five operators, members of this Top 10, have kept their five-year average investment rate above 20%: Châtel (33%), Val Thorens-Orelle (30%), L’Alpe d’Huez (24%), Avoriaz (23%) and Courchevel-La Tania (22%).
Top 10: Investment/turnover ratio 2014 vs 2009-2013 in M€



Over the years our readers, whether professionals or not not, have come to await with great interest this now traditional "Investment survey". Its purpose is to present the different types of investments made by French ski area operators and their supporting organisations.
Panel > This year, in partnership with ATOUT France and Domaines Skiables de France, we sent exactly the same questionnaire to 111 builders and suppliers, 9 study bureaux, 177 operators of one or more ski areas and the same number of local organisations.
Replies > After several resends, the total number of respondants was 29 suppliers, 4 study bureaux, and 113 operators - mostly representing several ski areas and their supporting organisations; we thank them all for their collaboration. This summary of investments was made by crossing the data collected from these different sources. For certain items, we analysed the figures with the builders to make them coincide with the figures reported by the operators. We must also thank STRMTG for their collaboration on the New lifts item. Our figures may differ from those reported by STRMTG, which only includes the actual lift equipment in any sale, while Montagne Leaders takes into account all the general work associated with the installation of a new lift. (Certain civil engineering and/or installation works, electrical work, buildings, access structures such as stairs or walkways, and many other complementary operations for a lift, are included in the operator's Investment budget.) Please note that income figure for the indicator "evolution of investments compared to lift income" is taken from the total panel of our Top 100 2013/2014 survey, number 245.
Data entry > The work of entering and compiling the data and figures for the investments is long and tiresome. It is probable that, despite repeated checks, one or two errors may have slipped through. We apologise for these in advance.
To avoid confusion and interpretation, we have only mentioned the contractors when they are specifically named for a given operation.
As in previous years, we have split the "Various" item: one part covers buildings, roads, etc. ("Various"), and the other ski-bobs, quads etc. ("Vehicles").
Information > We are aware that certain figures are not necessarily an exact reflection of reality; but they correspond to the figures reported to us and we are not responsible for them. Nevertheless we have always tried to check the consistency of the data to avoid too many divergences. We cannot therefore guarantee the precision of our figures, which - as in other years - are intended mainly to allow comparison between the different items, the share of investment made by each ski area and each mountain massif, and how these have evolved over time.
Calculation > Finally, we work only in euros at the current value and do not take into account either price increases or inflation.


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