Skistar closes the financial year after a record winter in Sweden and summer success
HISTORICALLY HIGH BOOKINGS FOR THE WINTER SEASON AT +10 PERCENT
During the financial year, SkiStar updated their strategic plan and the repositioning of SkiStar the winter ski lift company as SkiStar the year-round mountain tourism company focusing on Scandinavia.
The focus on summer during the fourth quarter resulted in higher guest numbers, which led to an increase in sales in all revenue categories.
On 1 July, SkiStar took over the operation of six hotels and lodges in the Scandinavian mountain resorts, creating a new business area: Operation of Hotels.
Earnings continue to be negatively affected by the absence of foreign guests, mainly in Norway, due to the pandemic and entry rules.
Net sales for the fourth quarter were SEK 246 (162) million, an increase of SEK 83 million (51 percent) compared with the previous year.
Profit after tax was SEK 80 (-101) million, an increase of SEK 180 million (180 percent) compared with the previous year.
Operating profit was positively affected by SEK 198 million related to transfers of hotel properties, building rights and indirectly jointly-owned (50%) companies, all through conveyances to the already established joint venture company Skiab Invest AB.
Earnings per share amounted to SEK 0.87 (-1.23).
Net sales for the full year were SEK 2,751 (2,794) million, a decline of SEK 44 million (2 percent) compared with the previous year.
Profit after tax was SEK 234 (287) million, a decline of SEK 53 million (19 percent) compared to the previous year.
Earnings per share amounted to SEK 3.04 (3.71), a decline of 18 percent.
The Board proposes a dividend of SEK 1.50 (0) per share, totalling SEK 118 (0) million.
Comments from the CEO Stefan Sjöstrand:
We end a year in which we have delivered positive results, in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, with an extremely strong momentum in business development, acquisitions and divestments. All Swedish and Norwegian destinations remained open throughout the winter season with more new guests visiting us. However, the absence of foreign guests has had an adverse effect on our earnings. Our new focus on the summer months, with SkiStar Sports & Adventures, has contributed to more summer guests.
To strengthen our position as the leading tour operator for Scandinavia, we completed two major strategic transactions during the year. The first was the sale of our majority shareholding in the ski resort of St. Johann in Tirol in Austria, which we expect to conclude shortly. The second was a deepening of our collaboration with Peab in Skiab Invest AB, where we jointly own the six best hotels and lodges in Sälen, Trysil and Hemsedal. As a result of the transaction, SkiStar runs all hotels in a new hotel division from 1 July. The transaction enables us to offer our guests an even better overall experience when they visit us. In December 2021, we are opening our latest addition: SkiStar Lodge Hundfjället, a brand new lodge in the Sälen mountains and a key part of the development of SkiStar Sälen into an international mountain resort.
The new focus on the summer season was among the drivers that enabled us to increase our Q4 sales to SEK 246 (162) million. The strong inflow of guests has resulted in an increase in all revenue categories, and we are also seeing additional revenue from our new hotel operations.
It is very pleasing to be able to report a profit after tax of SEK 234 (287) million for the full year 2020/21 in an industry that has been affected by the pandemic and restrictions on travel and socialising. The absence of foreign guests, particularly in Norway, is having a negative impact on earnings.
Our cooperation and dialogue with the wider industry, healthcare services, the authorities and our skiing associations prior to the winter season ensured that we were well prepared for another Covid-adapted winter season. At the same time, we invested in digitalisation, including digitalised check-in/check-out and SkiPass purchasing, which has been appreciated by our guests. I am very proud of our Covid-safe precautions, which resulted in nearly 90 percent of our guests feeling safe and secure while staying with us, which is a testament to the hard work our employees put in to give our guests memorable mountain experiences. It is also particularly pleasing that 7 percent of our guests were new to SkiStar during the winter season.
As a further step in SkiStar’s strategic shift from a winter ski lift company to a year-round tourism company, we launched SkiStar Sports & Adventures in summer 2021, with a range of activities such as trail biking, climbing parks and lift-assisted hiking. Interest in staycation breaks and active holidaying all year round remains high, which is also reflected in our visitor figures: 30 percent more visitors used the lift system and activities on the mountain in summer 2021 than in the previous year. We also see that as many as one in four of our visitors have not visited us before in the summer and one in three have not visited us in the winter either. This creates a range of opportunities for increased visitor numbers and revenue in both summer and winter.
Our retail operations continue to grow strongly, particularly online at skistarshop.com, with growth of 16 percent during the financial year. Our digital platforms (skistar.com, skistarshop.com and SkiStar App) had 32 million visits during the year, an increase of 14 percent. The number of MySkiStar members reached 1.3 million (+36 percent).
We have taken several steps forward in the area of sustainability this year, with a new sustainability strategy that includes ambitious targets to reduce our emissions by 50 percent by 2030, while getting more people moving. We do this by offering more activities at our destinations all year round, and also in dialogue and interaction with our stakeholders and partners.
Interest in alpine mountain tourism in Scandinavia is greater than ever as we approach winter, with many booking early and many foreign guests, particularly from Denmark, returning as travel restrictions are eased. This means that our bookings for winter 2021/22, expressed as the number of overnight stays booked through SkiStar’s accommodation agency, are 10 percent up on the same period the previous year. With the 2018/19 winter season as the comparative period, the increase is even greater at 15 percent, indicating that the recovery is accelerating and the staycation trend is here to stay.
We are better equipped than ever for the coming financial year, having successfully conducted our operations over two summer seasons and two winter seasons during the pandemic. Despite Covid-19, we have confidence in all the experience and knowledge we have built up as a company during this sometimes challenging period. Our core business of alpine skiing, spending time outdoors in the fresh air and having active holidays with family and friends stands firm in adverse conditions, both today and in the future.
Chief Executive Officer
SkiStar in brief
SkiStar AB (publ) is listed on the Mid Cap list of the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange. The Group owns and operates alpine ski resorts in Sälen, Vemdalen, Åre and Hammarbybacken (Stockholm) in Sweden, Hemsedal and Trysil in Norway and St. Johann in Tirol in Austria. Operations are divided into three segments: Operation of Ski Resorts, Property Development & Exploitation and Operation of Hotels. As the leading holiday tour operator for Scandinavia, SkiStar’s business concept is to create memorable mountain experiences, develop sustainable destinations, offer accommodation, activities, products and services of the highest quality with our guests in focus. For further information, please visit www.skistar.com/en/corporate.