33 ILT staff take up re-employment offer

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An artist's impression of ILT's The Langlands hotel, being built on the corner of Dee and Don Sts, Invercargill. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

MANY of the 87 staff initially laid off from the ILT have been re-employed due to a surge in Invercargill’s hospitality sector.

ILT chief executive Chris Ramsay said this week most of the staff who were made redundant as a result of the impact of Covid-19, had been offered employment back in the business with 33 taking up the offer of work.

“A lot of them have, some of them had found other employment and some others are looking at employment options they’re exploring elsewhere,” he said.

While demand in accommodation and functions had still not bounced back since Alert Level 1 began, the increase in hospitality had surpassed predictions, so some staff had been redeployed into other areas of the business, he said.

ILT chief executive Chris Ramsay.

“It’s [business] trending really positively in the right direction now, though I do say it with a wee counter of the high gross profit areas, of function activities and accommodation, are still well back on the same time last year but all other business areas have bounced back really well.”

In its annual report, accommodation operating profit was down 67% for April, May and June compared to last year.

The growth since most of ILT’s businesses had reopened had come as a bit of a surprise.

“It’s ahead of what we forecast.

“We were very wary of when we did the forecast because the concern for us was absolute unpredictably of how quick it would bounce back.”

Mr Ramsay had been pleasantly surprised with the support of the community and was hoping the economy would sustain where it had now settled.

“I’m unsure of how many people would have taken on the wage subsidy extension, therefore I hold a bit more hope in the coming months things will stabilise rather than drop.”

The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter announcement was also a “massive concern” for the business, he said.

“What we did the minute the announcement was made was just assess what direct revenue impact it would have on us if it was to close tomorrow. So at least we know our worst case position.

“What is of more concern out of the Tiwai situation is business confidence, so people who were looking to expand either into Invercargill or grow their business might have lost a bit of confidence in making that move given what’s happened at Tiwai.”

The new Langlands Hotel build was the first thing which popped into Mr Ramsay’s head when the smelter announcement was made.

“The worst thing that could happen, given we’re in the throes of building a hotel and Covid-19’s hit, but when you’re committed to a project and you’re committed to a future that’s beyond five and 10 years then you’ve got to make the move.”

Business had now hit a level he believed they could continue to trade at.

“We know that we’re not going to hit the lofty heights that we hit last year in revenue terms, in areas such as accommodation until the borders open.

“We’re not going to get that back, but the reality is where we’re settling now we’re happy with because its better than we forecast.”

There had been a significant lift in trade with Southlanders getting out and about as well as an increase in domestic flights meaning corporate travellers were now returning to the city.

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