During the financial year to 27 March 2016, accounts for Eden Project Limited, filed at Companies House at the end of last month, show operating profit rose to £1.8 million from £1.4m in the 2014/15 financial year. Turnover was up to £20.7m from £18m in the same time period.
The rise was entirely down to an 11.6 per cent increase in visitor numbers at the site. After depreciation, the release of deferred capital grants and interest costs - £13,000 higher than the previous year following a change in the profile of bank loans and leases – the organisation’s pre-tax loss was £655,000 – significantly less than the £1.1m recorded the year before.
Highlights at the St Austell, Cornwall visitor attraction during 2015/16 include being voted Best UK Leisure attraction in the British Travel Awards for the fifth time, Elton John playing at the site and 7.2m people attending the Big Lunch 2015, up from 4.8m the year before. The first students started on its degree programme run in collaboration with Cornwall College and Plymouth University and permission granted for 112-bed hotel on site, although plans were revised in November 2016 to a £8.5m, 109-bedroom development. It received and signed an agreement to build an Eden Project in Qingdao, China with three Chinese partners.
Eden Project Limited’s board believes the organisation can be debt free by the 2019/20 financial year.
Eden Project executive director David Harland said: "This has been the third year in succession of steady improvement in Eden’s finances as it continues to be sustainable. This allows us to invest further in our charitable programmes.
"The significant increase in our trading surplus is due largely to previous investments into both the site and other programmes and developments starting to bear fruit.
"Eden will continue to invest in maintaining and improving the site, its educational programmes and will continue to reduce historic debt. By investing for the long term in this way, Eden will preserve its remarkable infrastructure and educational mission for future generations."
Harland said that Eden’s mission of achieving an Eden on every inhabited continent was making progress.
"We hope to be able to announce a new project in Australia during 2016/17, as well as further developments in China, USA and mainland Europe."