Operation of skifield for review

The future of Cardrona Alpine Resort is uncertain after the skifield business' Australian owners last week announced a major strategic review.

The skifield, in the Cardrona Valley, is one of several assets of Vealls Ltd, of Melbourne, which also include pastoral and forestry properties in Australia and France.

The Veall family is the company's principal shareholder group and has been since 1951 when it was listed on the ASX.

In a report to shareholders at the company's annual meeting last Friday, 88-year-old executive chairman Ian Veall said the 2012 season at Cardrona Alpine Resort had produced good revenues which recovered from the previous year, when poor early season snow conditions had a "marked negative effect".

However, ongoing volatile and uncertain financial conditions were inhibiting the company's objective of reinvesting its accumulating cash pile in Southeast Asia.

"Given this situation, the board considers the time has come to commence a review of its corporate strategies that will encompass all aspects of how they are operating," Mr Veall said.

"In short, a comprehensive review."

Despite a drop in revenue from the previous year, the company made a profit of more than $A2 million ($NZ2.54 million) in the year ended June 30, 2012. Total revenue was $A13.52 million, most of that derived from New Zealand operations, the annual report said.

Snow Sports NZ chief executive Marty Toomey said he was not concerned about the review's impact on the skifield, particularly considering the skifield operation was still making a profit.

"From my perspective it's just good business practice. Any business goes through a review of where it's at annually," Mr Toomey said.

"I think it's entirely appropriate that the Veall family look at what they do own.

"It doesn't concern me at all that that [review] would have any negative effect on Cardrona ... and whether it's available to host upcoming events in future years."

Wanaka Chamber of Commerce executive member Alistair King said while it was difficult to comment on how the review might affect the skifield's operations, Cardrona Alpine Resort was a hugely important part of the Wanaka economy.

"Being a large employer, purchaser of goods and services and an integral part of the skiing and tourism industries ... is crucial to the greater Wanaka economy," Mr King said.

"Having the OnePass [new interchangeable ski pass] in place for the season just gone has been a great step forward, and we would look to seeing initiatives such as these continue to be developed."

Cardrona Alpine Resort has 345ha of terrain and a lift carrying capacity of 11,000 people an hour. It hosts several major national and international ski and snowboarding competitions annually.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz