RHS furloughs 530 staff as it undergoes multi-million pound losses

After cancelling Chelsea Flower Show and other events and closing gardens and shops, the RHS has been forced to furlough more than half of its staff as it looks to move Hampton Court's annual flower show from July to September.

Image: RHS

An RHS spokesperson said: "Due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and having to cancel our shows and close our gardens, we have sustained multi-million pound losses. Like so many organisations, in order to manage our way through this pandemic and access critical Government funding, a number of employees are regrettably being ‘furloughed’.

"All furloughed staff will receive 80% of their normal pay and 100% of their pension contribution and will not be required to work during this period. Approximately 530 employees will be furloughed, enabling us to prioritise our financial stability and the continuation of the RHS as a charity. Approximately 470 employees will continue working to keep vital elements of the Society safe and secure, in particular the living collections that are our gardens, and the Virtual Chelsea Flower Show in May which we hope will help many industry exhibitors to bring much needed income in for them from online sales.

"These are unprecedented times and this has not been an easy process but all of us are determined to ensure the Society survives this crisis."

It is believed exhibitors have been asked about moving Hampton Court Flower Festival from July to September. All other RHS shows before July have all been cancelled. Show venues NEC Birmingham, where Glee is on in September, and Excel in London, where Grand Designs is held in August, have been converted into 'Nightingale' coronavirus hospitals.

If the show moves to September, it could be take the dates of Wisley Flower Show (8-13 September). That would mean no clash with the Harrogate Autumn show (18-20 September) or the Malvern Autumn show (26-27 September), meaning nurseries could attend all three. BBC TV would need to reschedule and hotel room bookings and travel arrangements would need to be changed, as would arrangements with service suppliers and providers. 

Meanwhile, the National Trust has furloughed 11,200 of its staff - around 80%.

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