Winter seasons come and go, but they are never the same. Industry professionals agree that the 2023/24 winter season was atypical and complex to manage, marked by fluctuating weather conditions. At high altitude, the exceptional quantities of snow posed additional challenges, but also provided ideal skiing conditions.

These exceptional weather conditions, beneficial for mountain activities, had a direct impact on the performance of Compagnie des Alpes (CDA), which manages the resorts of La Plagne, Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry, Tignes, Val d’Isère, Les Menuires, Méribel, Serre Chevalier, Flaine, Samoëns – Morillon – Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval.

Half-year sales of €761 million

With consolidated sales of €761.1 million for the first half of the 2023/24 financial year, the Group recorded an impressive 12.2% increase on the previous year. This excellent performance is mainly attributable to ‘the strong mobilisation of our teams, whether they are involved in designing, preparing, promoting or marketing the Group’s various offers, or whether they are working in the field to welcome the public, in the mountains or in the leisure parks’ (Compagnie des Alpes). This collective commitment to customer satisfaction, the cornerstone of the Group’s strategy, has resulted in an improvement in the customer satisfaction indices in Compagnie des Alpes’ three main divisions during the first half of the year: Ski Areas and Outdoor Activities, Distribution and Hospitality and Leisure Parks.

La Plagne ski resort

This success is also due to the high quality of the ski areas managed by the group, located at altitude, where the natural abundance of snow has provided ideal skiing conditions. These factors, combined with modern infrastructure, have not only enhanced the customer experience but also boosted the attractiveness and competitiveness of the CDA’s sites, underlining the crucial importance of altitude and quality facilities in the group’s growth strategy.

Notable projects this season included the new Pontillas gondola lift at Serre Chevalier, which is revitalising the Villeneuve-La Salle area with the development of the MMV Club Residence project, and the first phase of the redesign of the Glacier chain at La Plagne, aimed at improving access to the highest areas of the resort in both summer and winter.

A sharp rise in the number of skier-days

The ski areas and outdoor activities sector recorded impressive growth in the first half of the 2023/24 financial year, with sales reaching €496.9 million, a significant increase of 14.3% on the same period last year. This remarkable result is mainly attributable to the increase in the number of skier-days, which rose by 8.6%, far outstripping growth in the domestic market, which stood at 2.0%.

A 20% reduction in water consumption

This robust growth is partly due to favourable weather conditions. The Group’s high-altitude ski areas have benefited from abundant snow cover, which has enabled water consumption for snowmaking to be reduced by almost 20%. This privileged geographical location guarantees a superior skiing experience, a crucial factor in attracting and retaining winter sports enthusiasts.

Samoëns ski resort

A favourable school calendar

The school holiday calendar also played a favourable role, optimising the distribution of visitors throughout the season, particularly during the periods that are usually very busy. This has helped to improve the visitor experience and maximise daily revenues.

CDA becomes the preferred choice for 93% of new customers

Revealing data was obtained from an internal survey of 10,000 new customers, who had not visited the group’s ski areas for more than five years. The results of this survey show that almost 93% of these new customers have come from other high mountain resorts not managed by Compagnie des Alpes or are new to mountain activities. Only 7% of the customers questioned were regular visitors to low and medium mountain resorts in France or neighbouring countries, who had chosen to migrate to the high altitude sites managed by the CDA.

This trend is encouraging, as it suggests that Compagnie des Alpes is attracting a new and diversified customer base, capturing a significant share of the market from other mountain regions. This information is crucial for adjusting the Group’s marketing and operational strategies to continue to attract and retain this new customer base, while optimising the offers and services on offer. The outlook therefore remains positive, despite the need for caution due to possible economic uncertainties or other cyclical ups and downs.

Compagnie des Alpes Hospitality and Distribution up 2.9

Within Compagnie des Alpes, the Distribution & Hospitality division posted sales of €96.5 million for the first half of the 2023/24 financial year, up 2.9% on the same period last year. This increase, in line with the Group’s expectations, is the result of varied performances across its various entities.

MMV, a key player in this division, saw its accommodation sales net of commissions grow significantly. This double-digit increase was driven in particular by the excellent reception at recently opened or renovated sites, such as the new club residence at Risoul inaugurated in December 2023 and the Village Club at Alpe d’Huez freshly renovated this winter. These establishments recorded remarkable occupancy rates, reaching around 97% during the Christmas holidays and 95% during the February holidays, reflecting the quality and attractiveness of the accommodation on offer.

Mountain Collection Immobilier, the leading network of specialist mountain estate agents, also enjoyed a particularly dynamic period. Also posting double-digit growth, the network benefited from an overhaul of its pricing structure and expanded with the opening of a new branch in Val Thorens in February, marking the installation of its 30th sales outlet.

As for Travelfactory, this entity followed a trajectory in line with forecasts, with moderate growth. This was mainly due to a refocusing on a policy based on contribution margin rather than volume, and to the discontinuation of the rail offer following a decision by the carrier. Faced with this situation, Compagnie des Alpes is considering strategic adjustments for next season, including the possibility of reinstating the rail service in order to best meet the needs of its customers.

Full control of the MMV group

On 27 March 2024, Compagnie des Alpes (CDA) took a decisive step towards consolidating its investment in mountain real estate by acquiring the remaining 15% of the MMV Group’s capital, thereby increasing its stake to 100%. This acquisition is in line with the agreements initially reached with the founders of MMV, at the time of the initial purchase of 85% of the capital in October 2022. The founders made an offer to CDA to buy back the remaining 15% that they held, an offer that CDA accepted, at a valuation and share price identical to those of the previous acquisition.

This strategy of taking full control of MMV is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it will enable CDA to strengthen its influence and decision-making capacity within the MMV group, a major player in mountain tourist accommodation. By owning 100% of the capital, Compagnie des Alpes will have complete control over MMV’s strategic and operational direction, which will facilitate the implementation of synergies between the group’s different activities, particularly in terms of marketing, customer management and property development.

Hameau des Airelles, Montgenèvre (05)

What’s more, this total integration will enable CDA to optimise the management of its property assets, which are crucial to its overall mountain services offering. By fully controlling MMV, the Company can more effectively align property operations with the needs of ski areas, enhancing the customer experience while maximising financial returns.

In summary, this complete acquisition reflects a prudent and calculated strategy by Compagnie des Alpes to consolidate its activities and strengthen its position in the mountain tourism industry. With full control of the MMV Group, CDA is better positioned to drive coherent strategic initiatives and fully exploit the potential of mountain real estate assets, ensuring sustained growth and increased value for the Group.

Measured optimism for ski resorts

The exceptional results achieved by Compagnie des Alpes’ Ski Areas and Outdoor Activities division clearly illustrate the combined effects of strategic location, judicious investment and effective management of peak periods. These factors, supported by the commitment of local stakeholders to promoting mountain tourism, ideally position the Group to maintain this positive momentum in the coming half-years.

As far as this division is concerned, the Compagnie des Alpes Group is cautiously optimistic for the rest of the year, following a remarkable performance in the first half. It is important to remember that the second half of the year traditionally accounts for just over 10% of this division’s annual sales, indicating a lower level of activity compared with the peak winter season.