Followers of industry stats will know that the number of people taking snowsports holidays has decreased in each of the last four years.
So with a market that’s fallen by almost 25% it’s a rare pleasure to find a business that’s bucking the trend and expanding rapidly. Skiplex recently opened its second centre in Reading, just over a year after opening their Chiswick operation.
What is Skiplex?
Skiplex run indoor ski training slopes; think of them as like a treadmill for skiers. Their revolving slopes are made of carpet-like material and the speed and gradient can be adjusted to suit your needs and ability.
Founder Mark Strachan was extremely pleased with the first twelve months of trading: “Year one in Chiswick was a huge success, particularly through the winter season when we were at maximum capacity with two instructors in the centre at all times.”
Summer was more difficult, but the company ran special discount promotions and will run off peak prices in both Chiswick and Reading next year.
Their second centre in Reading opened at the start of December 2012 and is due to be followed by Basingstoke in summer 2013.
“We picked Reading because of the great communication links and we will continue looking to expand when opportunities present themselves,” Strachan told us.
Why has it worked?
So many new entrants into the snowsports market have great ideas, but fail to make a success of it, so where has Skiplex gone right where others have gone wrong?
The first and most important reason is that they have developed a great product. This doesn’t compete with snowdomes or dryslopes as it is completely different.
Having seen my own children try it out, it’s clear that the absence of lifts, or having to walk up the slope again and again, makes your time on the slope so much more effective. Instructors can sit at the feet of beginners, or look in the large mirror to watch the progress of intermediates behind them.
Start small, grow slowly
Secondly, by starting small with just one slope at Chiswick, they haven’t over-committed. They’ve established a workable business model and been able to grow it.
Some lessons to be learned for all of the industry perhaps, but certainly great to be able to report on a positive story from the industry.
By Iain Martin