Dear HCC customers
I hope you and your families are all safe and healthy through this COVID-19 crisis.
Seven weeks since we closed the climbing centres on Tuesday 17th March, I wanted to thank you for your incredible generosity in continuing to support your climbing centre and explain how we have used your money to ensure the continued operation of the climbing centre.
Our main concern at the time of the closure was how we would be able to keep paying the salaries of our 90 employees across our 3 sites, together with the on-going costs of the sites. Faced with no source of income as the centres were closed, this was a huge concern. To our great relief, several days after the closure of our centres, the Government announced the Furlough scheme, which has meant that we have been able to put all 86 of our operational staff on Furlough until we are able to reopen the centres. We have been paying their wages since that time at the Government supported reduced rate of 80%, but at the time I write to you, we have not received any repayment from the Government. We anticipate that we will receive these refunds in the coming days. Our operational staff are critical in ensuring that you and all our customers have a great climbing experience when you visit your climbing centre and we are extremely grateful that we will receive support from the Government allowing us to keep them in the business for when we re-open. We are also very grateful for your support in contributing to bridging the cashflow gap in paying salaries.
Our operational staff are not the only members of our team who are critical in running the centres, we have a number of support staff who make a valuable contribution but you who you may never have met. We were unable to put all of these staff on Furlough as there is still a significant amount of work that is continuing which is critical to the continued operation of the business, including calculating and paying salaries, reclaiming the Furlough funds from the government, communications and maintaining our social media presence, arranging refunds for forward bookings, looking after the security of our sites, paying suppliers and liaising with the banks and other funders to ensure we have sufficient funds to continue trading. Your support has also been used to pay the salaries of people not on Furlough and towards our on-going costs.
In all honesty, I can say that these last seven weeks have been the most difficult time in the history of our climbing centres. We have had to deal with many unanticipated challenges, however through it all we have been reassured by the amazing climbing community around us: those of you who have been able to continue to support us financially through generously continuing your memberships or purchasing gift vouchers for future use; those customers with forward bookings who have kindly agreed to move the booking to a future date rather than receive a refund now; and those people who have supported us through positive messages and offers of help. In addition, we remember that we are dealing with a business challenge which whilst important to us, pales into insignificance compared to the life-threatening challenges that some are facing as a result of the COVID19 crisis.
We are anxious to see the world return to some kind of normal, so that we can re-open, welcoming all our great employees and wonderful customers back to enjoy our amazing centres. We are also realistic that the new ‘normal’ will be very different from the world we knew before COVID19 and that it is our responsibility to provide a safe environment for people to work and climb in. We are working through what this means for the climbing experience and will continue to keep you updated.
Finally, I wanted to thank-you again for your incredible generosity in having supported your climbing centre during this period. We don’t know when we will be able to re-open, so if you do wish to amend your membership in this next period before we re-open please do via our HCC members page.
Until we do re-open, keep safe, keep in touch with us and stay at home.
CEO & Founder of Climbing Centre Group ltd