Royal Highland Agricultural Society in £3.6m loss

Royal Highland Show

The Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) has revealed a deficit of £3.6 million for 2023.

The charity said its total income rose 5% to £11.5 million but expenditure was £15.3 million.

“Operationally, 2023 brought an economically challenging year, with rising interest rates and spiralling inflation,” said the RHASS.

“Recognising these difficulties, RHASS, made the strategic choice to plan a deficit and take further steps to protect and ease the burden of ag-inflation, and the rising living costs for members, Show exhibitors and trade partners.

“The RHASS board is confident in the future financial sustainability of the charity and that the planned deficit and investment in its core charitable functions made in this year will continue to deliver a positive impact.

“A plan is in place to bring the charity back into surplus, with a focus on cost management, innovative fundraising efforts, and strategic investments in infrastructure as well as further developing assets, to ensure its long-term sustainability.”

In its annual report, the RHASS said: ” The year to November 2023 was extremely challenging financially for the Society primarily due to the ongoing cost of living crisis, rising inflation and economic factors that have driven our cost base significantly upwards.

“An increase in income against budget could not offset cost increases primarily due to the prices being set in some cases twelve months in advance.

“However, we were delighted to deliver the 2023 Royal Highland Show and some of our challenges were offset by a positive year for our trading company, Highland Centre Limited, as it attracted and retained non-event business such as Royal Mail and delivered some fantastic live events.

“The Royal Highland Show was delivered in the ever-changing events landscape with costs in some areas increasing by 30% year on year.

“We continued our live- stream broadcasting, taking the excitement of the Show to a global audience with particular focus on Golden Shears which the Society had committed to delivering back in 2018.

“The cost implications of delivering this world championships of sheep shearing were significant (£494k) and show a substantial increase against the originally committed investment.

“Income from RHS activity was set in 2022, ahead of the challenging economic times that followed from the beginning of the financial year this report covers.”

RHASS CEO Alan Laidlaw said: “These results show the hard work of the Society in a challenging year, our long-term plan to grow our impact and invest in our core activities remains relevant and we are confident that our strategy will increase our reach and impact for many years to come …

“The 2024 Royal Highland Show is on track to be a fantastic event, with ticket sales up 9% on last year. Livestock entries are strong and many classes, including some new classes, have sold out in record time.

“We are pleased that our members have embraced the digital ticketing system, with 13,500 members having reserved their tickets, significantly up on last year. We look forward to welcoming visitors to this year’s show.”