Comments from the CEO Stefan Sjöstrand

From the Year-End Report September 2019 - August 2020

The 2019/20 winter season came to an unexpected and abrupt end when the corona pandemic shook not only the wider world but also SkiStar, with closures of our operations first in Norway and Austria and then also in Sweden when the Public Health Agency advised us to close due to increasing pressure on healthcare services at the time.

A shorter winter season has led us to review our costs, while also enabling us to develop our business and our products. We have made several digital investments that not only make it smoother and easier for guests to check in digitally at our lodging properties or top up their SkiPass directly in our app by the lift for example, but that also help create a sense of security and make things safer for both guests and employees – something we always prioritise.

The consequence of the season being impacted by corona was that our revenue declined by SEK 314 million, while profit after tax was SEK 287 million during the financial year. It is thus a different financial year that we are now putting behind us. At the same time, we see that there is still keen interest in alpine mountain tourism and we are proud to report strong demand figures for the 2020/21 season, with an increase of ten percent, measured as the number of overnight stays booked through SkiStar’s accommodation agency, compared with the same period in the previous year. Sweden accounts for the largest increase, while the Norwegian market is somewhat more cautious.

Our retail operations continue to show strong growth online, increasing by 42 percent during the financial year. The number of MySkiStar members is now 973,000.

The new accounting standard for leases, IFRS 16, which replaces IAS 17, has a relatively significant impact on SkiStar. We have many long-term lease agreements, including land leases, which are now reported as a liability in the balance sheet under the new standard. As an effect of this, our total assets after the financial year have increased by SEK 698 million, reducing our equity/assets ratio by six percentage points. More details about the effect of IFRS 16 can be found on page 17 of this report.

In Sweden we managed to take several safety measures during the winter in line with the corona situation that we then carried over into the summer season. The lessons learned during the winter and summer have led to us strengthen our preparations ahead of the winter season. We have enhanced our dialogue and cooperation with local and regional bodies, such as healthcare and emergency services, restaurant owners and hotels, through the destination companies at our ski resorts. The aim is to achieve joint agreement on clear guidelines for reducing the spread of infection, and here too we maintain close contact with the authorities and associations in each country. We are doing all of this out of care for our guests and employees.

During the summer months, we saw a strong inflow of guests to our destinations as many chose to spend their holidays at home in the mountains – a trend we believe is here to stay. More people are choosing an active lifestyle, often with family and friends on holiday, where a sustainable lifestyle is becoming increasingly important. It is therefore particularly pleasing to be making the largest summer investment ever in our 45-year history with the launch of a new summer concept – SkiStar Sports & Adventures – ahead of summer 2021. Shifting travel patterns and the staycation focus have prompted us to strategically channel even more energy into our home market of Scandinavia for the coming year.

Sustainability has been a focus area for us during the year and this will continue as we are now investing more in offering our guests all-year-round activities in the mountains in close connection with nature. We have initiated a partnership with Generation Pep to promote better public health by increasing children and young people’s enthusiasm for exercise. As CEO, what I see as my main task for our company is taking responsibility for ensuring that the next generation can live sustainably and enjoy the fantastic mountain environment and nature available to us, now and in the future.

 

Stefan Sjöstrand

Chief Executive Officer

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