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Published on Friday, January 15, 2021

'Ashamed' ski operator vows to return 'with relish and purpose'

The founder of VIP Ski, who has acquired the company from administrators, has spoken of his shame at failing to keep the company afloat, but expressed a determination to rebuild the business 'with relish and new purpose'.

Andy Sturt thanked agents and the wider industry for their support and said he planned to resume operations for the 2012/22 winter season.

VIP parent company, APS Select, went to the wall in November, blaming the havoc wreaked by Covid.

But Sturt had a £175,000 offer to buy back assets and the brand accepted by administrators who described the deal as being in the best interests of creditors.

Sturt said he was 'acutely aware' of the pain the insolvency caused and again apologised 'for not being able to find a way through the pandemic'.

He insisted that every customer will get thier money back.

"Everything that we previously achieved was due to the unstinting support and loyalty of our guests who we clearly let down," Sturt said. "It is true that everyone will get their money back for holidays not enjoyed, the vast majority have already done so, but this is a prolonged and laborious process and I remain ashamed that we were not able to honour our commitments in the first place.

"Despite the nuisance caused to so many, I have been completely humbled by the groundswell of support since our demise from guests, colleagues and industry partners and it was this support that fuelled my determination to continue."

Sturt said he was nervous, panicked and excited at being able to resurrect the 30-year-old brand.

"I am minded to remember the late summer evening in 1989, with my family on their knees in front of the TV, stuffing my first brochure into envelopes. When I ponder everything that has happened since," he sauid. "I am panicked at the thought of having to do it all again. But then I realise that maybe I've got the chance to cut and paste the half I got right onto a blank sheet of paper. That must be a unique and compelling opportunity.

"So the journey back begins now, and I can't deny a frisson of excitement at the prospect of putting only the best bits all back together again.

"I guess it's a bit like putting a bomb under 30 years' work, I've just got to dust myself down, pull myself together and go back out and pick up all the pieces.

"I never considered VIP SKI as my business, but rather a community of people and skiers; hundreds of thousands of guests, tens of thousands of colleagues, landlords, partners and suppliers, many of whom have become close friends, drawn together around a common love of skiing.

"My colleagues and I are simply relieved to have the opportunity of putting this back together again."

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