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Ski Club of GB makes loss of £841,589 in 2018-19

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@achilles, wink

Apparently a new website, but best ask an insider.
IT projects tend to be tricky, even for experts.
snow conditions     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
achilles wrote:
Gosh, it looks like negligently losing a vast sum of money relative to its turnover and assets, and then being unable to present accounts. IIRC the articles of association seek to limit the liability of the directors - but I wonder if they can save key members such as the Chair and Secretary from personal liabilities, given the circumstances.

And if they can't present accounts to the members, I wonder how do they stand with HMRC and Companies House (I admit I am gloriously out of date, does CH still require presentation of accounts?).

Maybe I am going a bit OTT. As a former happy member, I am somewhat shocked.

The Club did present its accounts prior to the AGM. They are available on the Club website and since there is no need to log in to view them, no harm no fowl in sharing the link (go to page 14 for the gory financial details):
https://issuu.com/skiclub/docs/scgb_report___accounts_19

It would appear that the losses can largely be attributed to the following:
- write-off of prior investments made in the website (i.e. most of these funds likely not expended in 2018-2019) - 342,000
- loss incurred by Freshtracks (apparently Brexit scared people from travelling later in the season- 200,000 (versus typically running at a profit
- the increased costs needed to support the dwindling number of members
...
ski holidays     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well I say bravo the Club!
Gerry always reminds us that it is a not for profit organisation.
Great to see it sticking to its fundamental principles.
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Quote:
...
the increased costs needed to support the dwindling number of members


Hmm. Ok.
ski holidays     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
AL9000 wrote:
Quote:
...
the increased costs needed to support the dwindling number of members


Hmm. Ok.

My words certainly not the Club's.
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@The Lev, Phew!

And welcome to snowheads snowHead
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@Super Chap Great Bloke, Laughing Laughing Laughing
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
AL9000 wrote:
@The Lev, Phew!

And welcome to snowheads snowHead

Thanks.

I've actually been around for a few years (as an occasional visitor) but Snowheads seems to have lost my earlier posts.
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@The Lev, is this you? https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/search.php?search_author=Levitt
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The Lev wrote:
achilles wrote:
Gosh, it looks like negligently losing a vast sum of money relative to its turnover and assets, and then being unable to present accounts. IIRC the articles of association seek to limit the liability of the directors - but I wonder if they can save key members such as the Chair and Secretary from personal liabilities, given the circumstances.

And if they can't present accounts to the members, I wonder how do they stand with HMRC and Companies House (I admit I am gloriously out of date, does CH still require presentation of accounts?).

Maybe I am going a bit OTT. As a former happy member, I am somewhat shocked.

The Club did present its accounts prior to the AGM. They are available on the Club website and since there is no need to log in to view them, no harm no fowl in sharing the link (go to page 14 for the gory financial details):
https://issuu.com/skiclub/docs/scgb_report___accounts_19

It would appear that the losses can largely be attributed to the following:
- write-off of prior investments made in the website (i.e. most of these funds likely not expended in 2018-2019) - 342,000
- loss incurred by Freshtracks (apparently Brexit scared people from travelling later in the season- 200,000 (versus typically running at a profit
- the increased costs needed to support the dwindling number of members
...


Thanks. The accounts are indeed there -- and at quick glance look grim.

Pruman quoted

Quote:
New in house accountant unable to give last 6 months results or full year forecast due to rebuilding systems.
.

I take it that the 'last six month results' fell outside the trading year? Taking up the implied slack on that will not be fun for the accounts team. I wonder how they can plan ahead at all if they don't have a handle on their current situation. Still, not my problem - just a little sad to see an institution I liked and was once a member of in such trouble.
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Yes. I guess I've ended up with two handles. Embarassed
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Aha, so it was you who lost his posts rather than snowHeads eh? Toofy Grin
We call this kind of error a PICNIC.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Referring to the planetski article linked to at the start of this thread it says "It's a big blow for the Club's new Chief Executive Ian Holt, who took over the management reins in July after seven years on the Club Council, the last two as Treasurer. In an email to members he says he was shocked to discover the state of the Club's finances, which emerged as recently as August and September." It does beg the question of how the Treasurer, who one might expect to be familiar with the Club's finances, was so ignorant of the actual situation? Puzzled

As regards the decision to write off £342,000 on its website, that does seem to have been a remarkably costly project. Shocked As regards the future of the website the planetski article states "It says it has yet to decide whether to go ahead with a new website and, if so, when." It's to be hoped that if they do they use a cheaper and more capable IT service provider. They might be able to get some tips on how to set up a modern innovative skiing related website from this example , oh, wait..... Toofy Grin
ski holidays     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Alastair Pink wrote:
They might be able to get some tips on how to set up a modern innovative skiing related website from this example , oh, wait..... Toofy Grin


perhaps Goneboarding is an example to follow: http://www.goneboarding.co.uk/

I guess they took their own advice.

I hope the website was put out to tender in an open and transparent process. 340K is both a big, and not so big sum, but you'd certainly be able to hire a small team for a year to put up a website for that money.
ski holidays     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I think the Annual Report tells me that this is a company whose only reliable income base is memberships and commissions on selling insurance. Its base costs are staff and offices. It has a relatively narrow profit margin of what, £100K/year on that? So the board need to use that very carefully. Just one or two mistakes, and the company goes into the red very quickly. Spending £340K on web presence plus £100K on its IT? how did they manage to spend that much without noticing? If it was a Big Bet - spend to expand - then fine, but you then need to monitor it carefully and have a contingency in case it doesn't work (like staff cuts). I know, it's easy to be an armchair executive, but this is all basic stuff.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I find the SCGB website difficult to use. Prompted by this thread I had a look at the SCGB members only Forum. I logged in as a member but when I tried to read the Forum section about the AGM I was directed back to the home page. After several attempts I realised that I was required to login a second time in order to read the members only section. Mystifying how much has been spent on such a poor website.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Jehu wrote:
I find the SCGB website difficult to use. Prompted by this thread I had a look at the SCGB members only Forum. I logged in as a member but when I tried to read the Forum section about the AGM I was directed back to the home page. After several attempts I realised that I was required to login a second time in order to read the members only section. Mystifying how much has been spent on such a poor website.


is that the new website? I thought the new site didn't work and that's why the money had been written off.
The forum and website don't have an integrated sign-on, it is really a question of both sites recognizing the same cookie to let you move seemlessly between the two. Not rocket science.

To build a "club" website with a customized look and feel shouldn't cost anywhere near 300K. Most clubs get one of the members to do it.

If they wanted some highly customized / built from scratch / integration with an app / eCommerce etc that could cost a lot more than 300K but really, without a clear vision of where new members are coming from it would be a waste of money.

it all seemed a lot more positive back in 2007 - but that was still 2 years after they shuttered their web chat board (or whatever it is called now) to the world

https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/skiing/ski-club-of-great-britain-ace-of-clubs-398722.html

their YouTube channel has quite a few subscribers but that doesn't translate into many video views

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVymmx44Slea_uwnIBajrNA


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Sun 17-11-19 16:01; edited 2 times in total
snow conditions     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
.. in any case these days you'd not build a custom thing to do that, you'd stick it on some white-label platform. That wheel's been invented already. These days you'd use OpenID type authentication, pretty easy and comes out of the box for free. It sounds like someone made a lot of money there wink
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philwig wrote:
.. in any case these days you'd not build a custom thing to do that, you'd stick it on some white-label platform. That wheel's been invented already. These days you'd use OpenID type authentication, pretty easy and comes out of the box for free. It sounds like someone made a lot of money there wink


without more details it is hard to see what they were trying to achieve
ski holidays     
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davidof wrote:
it all seemed a lot more positive back in 2007 - but that was still 2 years after they shuttered their web chat board (or whatever it is called now) to the world

https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/skiing/ski-club-of-great-britain-ace-of-clubs-398722.html


Reading that article I was surprised to see reference to a certain person "Graham McMahon" teaching avalanche awareness courses to SCGB members, the thought immediately arose has dadmin been moonlighting for the SCGB? Toofy Grin Then I realised that dadmin spells his surname slightly differently to that of the aforementioned gentleman....... Laughing Laughing
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@Alastair Pink, you're not the first to be confused by this coincidence.
I once got a panicky phonecall from Facewest who had 'refunded' me a not insignificant some of money intended for my doppelnommer.

More amusing though was, on the first day of the PreBBWUW as we were getting settled in Alleghe, to receive a phonecall confirming that "You're with us this week, yes?"
"Erm, not unless you're in Alleghe."
"No, you're guiding for us in Chamonix this week aren't you?"
"Ahhhh, you'll be looking for the other Graham MacMahon, Gerry*"

*yes that Gerry
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Alastair Pink wrote:

Reading that article I was surprised to see reference to a certain person "Graham McMahon" teaching avalanche awareness courses to SCGB members


glad you spotted it wink

they might have done better getting this Graham to teach them a bit about social media... they've probably gone over the event horizon now.
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@admin, Laughing Laughing
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admin wrote:

*yes that Gerry


I bet he did the dance for his group after that call Laughing
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davidof wrote:
is that the new website? I thought the new site didn't work and that's why the money had been written off.


I think people are reading too much into the 'written off' aspect. Writing off the costs is different from writing off the project. There is a sound accounting reason for writing off the cost of a bespoke website and that is because it has no value to anyone else- ie you can't sell it as an asset like, say, a minibus or a computer system. So it isn't really an asset in the fiscal sense at all. Even though the rules allow for depreciating a website over a period of years, accountants don't like doing it when there is plenty of dosh on the balance sheet and they don't need to.

£340k definitely looks to be a bit steeeep. Perhaps they have included their own internal staff costs over a few years. Perhaps there was a ton of database work required - but still Shocked Not all of the work would be lost should they decide to build again. Would be interesting to know who built it and what other sites they have built. Normally it says "site by XYZ & Co" in the footer but XYZ & Co might not be that proud of it.
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@Pruman, thanks for that perspective. Helps upgrade my view of the SCGB management from dire to poor.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Pruman, did you see my post on the previous page? I would PM you but can't as you're down a crevasse.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
SnowHeads should takeover the SCGB.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Whitegold wrote:
SnowHeads should takeover the SCGB.


no just no! Toofy Grin
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
boredsurfin wrote:
Whitegold wrote:
SnowHeads should takeover the SCGB.


no just no! Toofy Grin


Well, perhaps dadmin could use the SCGB precedent and write off £345,000 against this website for taxation purposes. Cool
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
That would be some seriously pricey duct tape @achilles Shocked
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@admin, well, you have used a lot of it. Perhaps you could negotiate a deal?
ski holidays     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@achilles, "I wonder how they can plan ahead at all if they don't have a handle on their current situation" - was one of the more pertinent questions put to the Chairman, Exec and FD, at the AGM. The answers were inadequate, and the source of some frustration to the many qualified accountants in the room. as was the answer to 'why is the new Treasurer not a CA', after much promotion by Ian on the merits of having 'suitably qualified' council members... all left a rather sorry state. by the time they got to the 'leader v rep' debate, it felt like flogging a dead horse.
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Pruman wrote:
...Writing off the costs is different from writing off the project. ... Even though the rules allow for depreciating a website over a period of years, accountants don't like doing it when there is plenty of dosh on the balance sheet and they don't need to. ... Would be interesting to know who built it and what other sites they have built. ...
Good point. If it was planned to write the costs off as they were taken then that's not a problem, the implication was that they were written off because it didn't work. The difference is fairly important.


Their main site uses SiteCore on Microsoft-IIS/8.5. The skisolutions site uses different technology. Their insurance site is Word Press on Microsoft-IIS/10.0. Although there's some overhead, that's a sensible way to manage technical change over time. As above it's not clear if this includes the £340k new stuff or not.

The published accounts don't contain a lot of detail but you're looking at £6M turnover with £5M or so costs.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Quote:

Their main site uses SiteCore on Microsoft-IIS/8.5. The skisolutions site uses different technology. Their insurance site is Word Press on Microsoft-IIS/10.0. Although there's some overhead, that's a sensible way to manage technical change over time. As above it's not clear if this includes the £340k new stuff or not.


Yup, sitecore is known generally as shitecore for good reasons. They as I understand still have control of all the content and just needs a decent cms system a rebrand and pluggin it all together.
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Might be time to cancel my automatically recurring February membership payment that I always forget about until it comes out of the bank!
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The change in Freshtracks contribution is -433,632 which when added to the write off of 342,756 makes -776,388 which is pretty much the full year deficit of 841,589. I think the comment about membership is a red herring.

pgs 24-25 explain where the holidays for freshtracks contributions change from 2017-2018 to 2018-2019. The pie chart colours appear incorrect for 2018/2019 compared to the commentary. It appears that weekend breaks have been transposed with touring or something like that. The words do not comment on this and in fact contradict it, suggesting the colours in the 2018-2019 pie chart are incorrect. (either that or I am green/blue colour blind)

Looks like the problem is mainly attributed to less overall holidays, whilst still incurring the expenses associated with having the facilities available for these holidays. (too many fixed costs I expect is the issue, like paying people who are doing nothing or not enough to justify their jobs)

Most of the members of the ski club are from London and over age 45 (or the majority of voting members). This suggests that they are probably the ones not going skiing, although it could be a UK wide Brexit issue.

Cash flow information and what the balance sheet assets (investments/fixed assets) are is fairly limited. Difficult to tell if cash flow will be an issue, particularly with dwindling cash in bank balances. Similar issues which Thomas Cook had, but at least the balance sheet is not negative overall. In other words there appears to be some assets to act as a buffer for years like the last one. Not sure how long they could continue to suffer people taking less holidays in a recession.

Another loss like last year will require the sale of some assets, raising borrowing, or increase in membership fees. Probably all three.
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Persuading younger people to pay to join any club is problematic these days. They have been shafted financially and have other competing calls on their time. Clubs probably seem irrelevant to them.......Snowheads excepted of course snowHead
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Peter S wrote:
Persuading younger people to pay to join any club is problematic these days. They have been shafted financially and have other competing calls on their time. Clubs probably seem irrelevant to them.......Snowheads excepted of course snowHead


You'd probably have to pay millennial to join.
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Maybe it was someone who posted here that millenials have got used to free or highly subsidised poo-poo from a wealth of tech businesses for whom growth in user numbers trumps any sense over user revenues> cost of user acquisition.

Be an amusing way to see the SCGB run down their remaining reserves - bribing millenials who still won't be interested in their old man holidays.
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