The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) has issued the equivalent of a company profit warning pointing to a likely £6.3m loss of income this year.
The major part will come from the loss of £3.8m of revenue which would have come from the now-cancelled 2020 Royal Highland Show. The balance comes from a £1.5 loss of income to the Royal Highland Centre, the RHASS’s commercial subsidiary.
Virtually every summer and autumn booking for the Ingliston site which it manages has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The inevitable decision to cancel the Royal Highland Show came on the eve of the handover of the keys to its new multi-million pound events space and members’ area.
The landmark building has been designed to serve as a hub for the agricultural community out with the Royal Highland Show as well as a state-of-the-art commercial events space. The venue had already secured a number bookings, including a wedding.
Alan Laidlaw, RHASS chief executive, said: “RHASS directors embarked on a planned programme of investment in our existing infrastructure that would see the Royal Highland Centre fit for purpose to host world-class events.
“The strategy was robust and designed to secure RHASS’s financial stability for the long-term. The reality is the Coronavirus has had a catastrophic impact on our events business and we will need to take tough decisions so we can continue to deliver against our charitable remit, while protecting the future of the organisation.”
RHASS distributed over £328, 117 in grants and awards in 2019 and is the major financial supporter of the Royal Highland Education.
RHASS chairman Bill Gray added: “Our focus over the coming months is to look at how we bridge the financial gap we are faced with, while still contributing to the success of the agricultural and rural sectors through our grants and awards.
"Without doubt the events business will restart once restrictions are lifted and we are preparing to take advantage of this. We are, however, also speaking to our partners and sponsors to see what part they can play to support us during this unprecedented time.
“Memberships are the lifeblood of the organisation and we urge people to continue to support us."