RHS accounts show £8.2m net surplus

Net surplus for 2014-15 exceeds expectations by £1m despite falling below £9.3m total recorded in previous year's report.

RHS gardens: total visitor numbers increased by 142,000 in 2014-15
RHS gardens: total visitor numbers increased by 142,000 in 2014-15

The latest RHS accounts for 2014-15 show a net surplus of £8.2m, exceeding budget expectations by £1m but below 2013-14's £9.3m surplus, as the society prepares to invest £100m on projects over the next decade.

Trading was up by one per cent, members/arts/media income was down 0.8 per cent and shows were up 1.3 per cent.

Garden visitor numbers rose 142,000 (8.7 per cent). Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park flower show numbers fell 7.5-8 per cent. Hampton Court attracted 141,000 visitors in 2015, level with 2014.

Membership was up from 414,000 to 428,000. Expenditure was up 3.8 per cent to £65m, with £1.5m spent on strategic investments as part of a £100m 10-year plan. Personnel turnover saw Dan Wolfe, David Morley, James Hiley and Sandra Parsons leave the leadership team.

Crocus paid £222,569 in commission to RHS Enterprises in the year to 31 January 2015. This was for supplying mail-order plants under RHS brands.

The accounts show the RHS pays director-general Sue Biggs between £170,000 and £180,000 - "incorrectly shown in the £180,000-£190,000 band previously".

It shows salaries up from £21.1m to £22.75m overall.

RHS staff numbers on £60,000+ rose from 18 to 21. Total income was £73.2m, up two per cent.

An RHS representative said: "We need salaries competitive enough to attract and retain talent who can manage and grow a diverse organisation with almost £80m of revenues generated from a variety of sources, including the world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

"At the same time the leadership team is implementing the major £100m investment programme, enabling us to do even more to enrich lives and improve local environments across the UK.

"Remuneration for senior management is a fair reward for the big jobs they do and the record success they deliver. Since the formation of the leadership team, the society's net surplus has risen steadily from £3.1m in 2008-09 up to £9.3m in 2013-14 and £8.2m in 2014-15, the latter showing the effect of the strategic investments."

In 2014 the RHS achieved a record 1,760,000 visitors at its gardens and finished the financial year with its highest membership of 428,472.

The RHS representative added: "As we have embarked on delivering some of our 10 major new £100m investment projects we have recruited new staff, including gardeners at Hyde Hall for the perennial meadow and in estates and finance to manage the vast investment programme.

"These and future additional staff will ensure the RHS can continue its day-to-day work while making some of the biggest changes in the history of the society to broaden its appeal, raise the profile of horticulture and careers in horticulture, and provide greater inspiration and advice for more people."

In April this year a commitment from the RHS to provide £7.3m of funding for horticultural training positions and salary increases was widely welcomed by the professional gardening sector.

The RHS will provide the funding over the next 10 years as part of the Horticulture Matters campaign to raise the profile of careers in horticulture. It includes £3.2m to increase RHS horticultural apprentice and training positions from 46 to 76 by 2025 and a further £4.1m investment in horticultural salaries by 2025.

This investment was due to fund permanent salary increases of between five and 10 per cent from 1 April 2015, in addition to the society's standard two per cent pay increase for 2015. The RHS added: "Salaries would also be expected to increase further due to the RHS's annual salary review."


Name Role Annual salary
Sue Biggs Director-general, RHS £170,000-£180,000
Helen Ghosh Director-general, £160,000-£170,000
National Trust
Richard Deverell Director, RBG, Kew £141,000

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