FIRST Choice has acquired upmarket ski operator FlexiSki for just under ú1m as it continues to strengthen its specialist division.



The new deal, completed after four months of negotiations, gives First Choice a presence in the direct-sell, luxury ski market.



FlexiSki, which will carry 1,800 passengers in 1998/99, will close its North Wales office with the loss of three jobs and relocate to Brighton where First Choice Ski, Lakes and Mountains is based. The operation will retain its Soho office, where the company has a small conference and incentives division.



Founder and managing director Neal Manuel will join the board of First Choice Ski, Lakes and Mountains and will report to specialist business managing director Kevin Ivie.



“I wanted to expand the operation but did not have an efficient enough infrastructure,” said Manuel. “When First Choice approached me it was too good an opportunity to turn down. It will enable us to expand.”



FlexiSki, which is operating to Courchevel, St Anton and Verbier this winter, made a ú175,000 profit in 1997/98 on a turnover of ú1.2m.



Four resorts have been added for 1999/20000: Val d’Isere, Chamonix, Lech and Whistler.