Virus crisis sees Nevis Range forced to consider redundancies

Nevis Range is getting ready for re-opening. NO F21 open for business 1

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Fort William’s popular snowsports and mountain biking resort Nevis Range has confirmed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic means job cuts may be inevitable.

The announcement came as the resort outlined its plans for re-opening if the Scottish Government’s provisional re-opening date of July 15 for the nation’s tourism businesses goes ahead.

Thermal screening, intensive cleaning and face coverings will feature when Nevis Range re-opens.

Staff at the resort have worked to put the raft of new safety measures in place, which will also include social distancing.

Customers will be asked to wear face coverings when the Mountain Gondola is open again for foot passengers and cyclists during Phase Three of the easing of government restrictions.

Nevis Range chief executive Chris O’Brien said the resort was looking to confirm a re-opening date as soon as possible after the provisional July 15 re-start date.

‘I would stress the date is provisional and could change if there are any flare ups with the virus. Whilst the date is good news, unfortunately all of the challenges we face remain the same,’ Mr O’Brien told the Lochaber Times this week.

‘This phase of re-opening will mean we can open. Social distancing at 2m will remain in place, indoor eating is possible but 2m must be observed and  gondola travel will be in singles or for groups that travelled together.’

However, with Nevis Range attracting around 75 per cent of its business between May and September, analysis of data suggests the overwhelming majority of its usual market is unavailable due to the nature of the restrictions.

Mr O’Brien added: ‘Over the next few weeks, we will start to advertise Nevis Range products and bookings in conjunction with all of the new measures the business will be taking to ensure our compliance with the guidelines.

‘When we do open, due to the nature of the financial crisis we find ourselves in, we will be operating Wednesday to Sunday, making exceptions around bank holidays and plan to carry on with a five-day operation throughout the rest of the summer.

‘Sadly there will be some redundancies at Nevis Range as we try to return to a sound financial footing to keep delivering quality activities and events for customers.’

Mr O’Brien could not say how many jobs might be affected, but explained the review process currently being conducted was designed to ensure every possible avenue was explored to avoid redundancies and explore all alternatives.

‘We are devastated we are forced to consider making anyone redundant but the catastrophic loss of revenue has left us with no alternative other than to enter into the business review,’ he continued.

‘We will offer any staff who are made redundant as much support as we can and are working with PACE, part of Skills Development Scotland, to offer support to any affected employees.’

Despite the challenges and tough decisions the company is faced with, Mr O’Brien said there is a mood of cautious optimism.

‘Whilst many of our projects have been cancelled, we are continuing with our new accessible Blue Bike Track and hope to have it open in May 2021.’

With staff furloughed, scheduled maintenance did not take place this spring. The company has now planned two volunteer days to get the mountain ready to re-open.

Anyone interested in getting involved should contact the Nevis Range team. ‘I am incredibly grateful to our incredible community for all the support they have pledged to Nevis Range for our volunteer days,’ added Mr O’Brien.

‘With their help, we will rise above the difficulties COVID-19 has presented and return to trading as quickly as possible.’

Nevis Range is getting ready for re-opening.

NO F21 open for business 1