It is possible to dismiss the closure of the ski resorts of Abondance and Céüze as isolated incidents. Too small to survive in today’s climate. However news that the Transmontagne group has stopped paying bills has been like a cold July shower for businesses and workers in the Alps. Transmontagne has become a specialist in managing mid-mountain ski domains including the 1968 Olympic resort of Chamrousse as well as Superdévoluy, la Joue du Loup, le Queyras, Pra-Loup, Valfréjus, le Lioran and Bardonecchia. In addition to running ski lifts the group has interests in property and shops and is developing resorts in China and Eastern Europe. However it is best known for running the spectacular Dubaï snowdome.
Today Transmontagne will ask Lyon commercial court for the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Lyon court has a range of choices. It can allow Transmontagne to continue operating for a fixed time but with its debts frozen in an attempt to restructure the business or find new investors, it can allow a direct takeover or it can appoint a receiver to sell off the assets. The news has come as a shock to Transmontagne’s 300 employees and 1700 season workers who have already experienced a difficult winter of short time working. Some workers have not been paid for two months. The cold and wet start to the summer has not helped mountain resorts which offer activities such as open air swimming pools, tennis, mountain biking and walking. Experts have blamed Transmontagnes problems on rapid growth, the losses are rumoured to be in the 7-9 million euro range. Philippe Gausset, the managing director, said the lack of snow during the winter was directly responsible for the group’s current financial difficulties. The group had just received a cash injection of 600,000 euros from the Conseil Général des Hautes Alpes. Jean-Claude Catala, in charge of the Transmontagne file, said the news of the financial difficulties had come as a surprise to him.
Amongst Transmontagne’s shareholders is the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CdC), a state run bank which also owns a stake in the Compagnie des Alpes (CdA). It is unlikely that the CdA will be interested in running Transmontagne’s ski areas. The CdA has concentrated on high altitude skiing and is already digesting the acquisition of a 60% stake in the Société des Téléphériques de Val d Isère (STVI) as well as minority shareholdings of 20% in Morzine-Avoriaz (SERMA), Valmorel (DSV) and La Rosière (DSR). The local communities of the Queyras say that they will take control of the Société d’Economie Mixte (SEM) - a type of public company from Transmontagne. The group had an 18 year franchise on the resort’s ski lifts and had been unteraking a heavy investment programme including two new chairlifts and snow making at Ceillac and les Abriès. Experts said that the six seater high speed chair lifts, built by Poma, were too large for the ski domains. Although the ski area has a rustic charm it is isolated, the nearest town, Gap is over an hour’s drive. The area had further plans to restructure with new chair lifts at Molines and St Veran as well as the possible closure of the Aiguilles and Vielle Ville lifts. The investments are largely funded by Transmontagne, the French State and European Community.
Posted by davidof
on Tuesday, 10 July, 2007 at 10:45 AM
Chamrousse has broken its contract with Transmontagne for the managemnt of the resort. The lifts and employees will now be part of a regie municipal for the following season. Transmontagne is selling its shares in the Italian resort of Bardonecchia and hopes this will cover its current debts (estimated at over 10 million euros) and permit it to continue operating next season.
Posted by davidof
on Thursday, 20 September, 2007 at 01:13 PM
I am thinking of buying an apartment in Valfrejus.
Do you have any information re: lift system/Transmontagne? Will it be operational after 10th Jan08?
Do you think it would be wise to pull out given the current situation?
Could you put me in touch with anyone else that may have useful information?
Thanks in anticipation.
Posted by on Monday, 24 September, 2007 at 10:17 PM
Monts Jura, which covers the ski areas of Gex and Divonne will start the 2008 season without Transmontagne. Daniel Bernardin, the president of the syndicat mixte which controls the Monts Jura will instead manage the ski area directly. The area had signed a management agreement with Transmontagne last spring. However the area is still looking for a group to run the ski domain from 2009, judging the task today as too complex and requiring specialist expertise.
Posted by davidof
on Wednesday, 26 September, 2007 at 02:35 PM
Maulin group, which had taken over the running of Pra Loup from Transmontagne have said they do not wish to continue after 2010. No news on the reasons but Pra Loup is now faced with looking for a new management company or having to run the resort themselves.
Posted by davidof
on Friday, 28 December, 2007 at 10:45 AM
I can not comment of the last year fiasco with TM .Have been to Valfrejus 4 times now and on the last one I have purchased a ski-to-door flat.
I found the price incredible.The place is my favorite.I have been to 40-50 resorts around the world but this one is one of my best.
Spoke with locals in Feb and all of them are saying that this season 07/08 the clientelle was much better.they have seen changes for the better.
Anyway from all of the resorts in the Maurienne Valley apart of Bonneval, Valfrejus is the best place in the area. Orrele maybe only because of the connection with Val thorens.I have never make a wrong desicion when purchasing porperty around the world-lets hope this time as well.I am sure that Valfrejus will become a pretty star in the region.So Im not worried about the present troubles. and suggest to all of owners in Valfrejus-keep tight for the moment and very soon the results will show.Trust me on that.
Also thought of some way of advertising the Resort a little bit more .Any suggestions are very welcome.
Posted by on Tuesday, 25 March, 2008 at 01:49 PM