Ski-binding maker latest to cut staff

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One of Norway’s biggest and most traditional producers of ski bindings, Rottefella, is suffering both from climate change and the country’s economic downturn. With financial challenges snowballing, the firm feels forced to lay off 22 workers from Friday.

Business has slacked off at the Rottefella ski-binding maker at Hurum, because of warmer weather, a lack of snow and Norway's economic downturn. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Business has slacked off at the Rottefella ski-binding maker at Hurum, because of warmer weather, a lack of snow and Norway’s economic downturn. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Local newspaper Røyken og Hurums Avis reported Tuesday that those faced with losing their jobs work mostly in Rottefella’s production department at the company’s operations on the Hurum peninsula southwest of Oslo.

“First and foremost it’s the poor winters we’ve had for the past two years that’s making us lay off workers,” Christer Johnsen, managing director of Rottefella, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “We live off snow.”

There’s been precious little of the white stuff recently, raising the prospects of red ink on financial statements. The upcoming ski season doesn’t bode well either, as unseasonably warm temperatures have even threatened this weekend’s official launch of the competitive racing season in Norway.

“We would gladly have three degrees below zero and a half-meter of snow by now,” Johnsen told NRK as thermometers instead showed readings of 8.3C  (nearly 50F) on Tuesday morning, with forecasts for rain through the week. The only snow in the forecast, despite the calendar showing mid-November, was at elevations even higher than most Norwegian ski resorts.

He noted that Rottefella had invested millions in new production facilities when ski seasons were more stable and Norway’s economy was roaring a few years ago. “So we need a certain amount of volume,” Johsen said. Even though the company caters to the biggest ski equipment market in the world, given Norwegians’ penchant for skiing, and exports to Russia, North America and Europe, Rottefella feels forced to cut back.

“We are hoping for a change in the weather and good Christmas sales,” Johnsen said. “Then maybe we can call workers back after New Year.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund