THE Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) has reported a strong set of results for the year ended November 30, 2021.
Members attending the RHASS annual general meeting, both in person and online, were presented with accounts detailing increased revenue to £8.2m (2020: £5m) and a strong cash position at £4.3m (2020: £2.5m).
Described as a ‘rollercoaster of a year’ by RHASS Chief Executive Alan Laidlaw, referring to the cancellation of the Royal Highland Show for the second year running and the wholesale wipe out of the charity’s events business due to Covid-19.
Net operating deficit increased to £0.8m (2020: £0.3m), and EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortisation) was reduced compared to the previous year at £0.5m (2020: £1.0m).
Increased revenue was attributed to securing the Royal Mail and NHS vaccine centre at the Royal Highland Centre, Scottish government support for the hosting of the hybrid Royal Highland Showcase event (£750k) and the final tranche of the Business Interruption Insurance payment of £700k.
Overall funds movement saw a small reduction of £0.3m (2020: £0.5m) with net debt reduced to £5.6m (2020: £7.5m). Infrastructure investment and development loan repayments recommenced in August 2021 following a repayment holiday agreed during the pandemic.
In terms of charitable activity beyond the Highland Show, RHASS continues its support of RHET to the tune of £136k and a further donation to RSABI of £16k. Directors also agreed to a funding package for the launch of Farmstrong Scotland (£50k), which enabled the initiative to achieve match-funding of a further £50k from Movember.
Membership income remained stable at £0.4m despite another ‘no show’ year and donations of £0.2m were awarded to the ‘Save Your Show’ fundraising campaign in this financial year.
Commenting on the results, RHASS Chairman Bill Gray said: “We are supremely proud of what we have achieved thanks to the resilience of the board of directors, the staff, and of course our membership who have been at the forefront of every decision we have made throughout.
“Despite having to endure a great deal of change, mainly due to the impact of the global pandemic, our membership has remained steadfast in support of a charity that they highly value.
“The wellbeing of our rural community has also been a focus as we forged ahead with the ambitious and ultimately successful Royal Highland Showcase, which not only attracted Scottish government support but also galvanised the industry to gather together, either in person or on livestream, to celebrate the best in food, farming, and rural life.
“It has been a challenging year but with prudent and considered decision making we have emerged an evolved and more sustainable charity and for that I am incredibly proud.”
RHASS Chief Executive Alan Laidlaw added: “We have not taken an easy road, but the outcomes speak for themselves. We successfully developed and hosted a hybrid event that was watched in 97 countries by almost 350,000 people, but we have also demonstrated an agility in our approach as we pivoted to create new revenue streams which we will continue to build upon in future years.
“Investment in our infrastructure continued, including upgrading our IT systems, which will mean a more streamlined membership service. We have also invested in training and the recruitment of key staff who have the skills we need to forge ahead and realise our ambitions. RHASS’ purpose has remained our guiding light, which is to protect and promote rural Scotland, and we are in a great place to continue to do this for many years to come.”
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