Hotelplan UK to launch consultation over job losses and office closure

Hoteplan UK is to reduce the size of its business due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, with up to 27% of roles at risk of redundancy and plans to close its office in Godalming in Surrey.

The UK arm of the Hotelplan Group includes specialist travel brands including Inghams, Ski Total, Esprit Ski, Flexiski and Santa’s Lapland, all based in Godalming, in addition to Inntravel, based near York, and Explore Worldwide, based in Farnborough.

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The company is understood to employ around 300 people across its three offices.

A 45-day consultation will begin on July 1, with proposed cost-saving measures including job losses, reductions in the size of all operations and the centralisation of businesses in the south in the Hotelplan-owned Farnborough office.

Similar moves are being considered across the European divisions of the Hotelplan Group, the company confirmed in a statement, adding that it envisaged “a more agile, flexible approach to home working” in the future.

It said: “Following a period of intensive discussions with its Swiss parent company [co-operative retailer Migros] around a wide range of scenarios for the future, it has become clear in recent weeks that the impact of the Covid-19 crisis has been, and continues to be, financially damaging for the business.

“The UK business was initially hit at the end of the winter ski season, with resort and border closures cutting the ski season short by some six weeks. As of today, none of the UK brands has been able to operate any meaningful summer programme and any reopening of borders or cautiously phased-up flight schedules will not be enough to revive the business overnight.

“As a result, a wide-ranging strategic review has been undertaken and plans re-shaped in line with reduced demand.”

‘Harrowing crisis’

Paul Carter, Hotelplan UK chief executive, said: “We are now collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime. Yet even in these worst of circumstances, I have been both amazed and truly proud to see the very best of who we are during this period.

“Throughout, we have strived to do the right thing on all our brands; initially, in the extraordinary efforts to repatriate our guests and staff; and since, ensuring guests whose holidays have been cancelled are either re-booked on future trips, or offered a cash refund where no rebooking has been possible.”

He added: “The ongoing impact of Covid-19 means we will endure heavy losses this year, whereby previously we’ve always been profitable. As news of job losses across the industry intensifies, it is now clear that the damage will be significant.

“Throughout this process, we have done everything we can to protect jobs for as long as possible, including reviewing our brand portfolio, product range and office footprint, whilst above all protecting our award-winning service.

‘Options exhausted’

“However, looking beyond the support of the UK job retention scheme, we face a set of circumstances where this is not enough to sustain us and we have exhausted all other options.

“For a company like ours, whose mission is centred around belonging, this is incredibly difficult to confront and accept. We have always believed the passion of our people make us stand out as distinctive and losing any of the team will cut us to the core. However heart-breaking these decisions may seem, they have become absolutely necessary, as we to continue to receive the long-term support of our parent company, Migros.”

Carter paid tribute to his teams, adding: “The news today is deeply saddening and I would personally like to thank all the teams, both in the UK and overseas, for their unwavering dedication, hard work and commitment when faced with the toughest of circumstances. I am also extremely grateful to all our suppliers, partners and industry friends who have shown us their support and loyalty throughout these challenging times.

“As we look to the future, I have no doubt we will get through this. We are already seeing a good number of guests transferring to next year, as well as new bookings for 2021. Our ongoing partnership with our travel agency colleagues remains a key part of this recovery and we will all rebuild our businesses and our industry together.”

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