RHS income up but members fall

Latest RHS figures show net income from membership, trading, sponsorship, legacies and donations were all up for the year to 31 January 2010, equating to £5.5m on total income of £65.8m - and up from £3.1m in 2008.

Net income from investments, however, fell from £2.3m to £0.8m, with the outlook for investment income remaining poor, the society's treasurer said.

Around 1.5 million people visited RHS gardens at Wisley (959,000 visitors), Harlow Carr (259,000), Hyde Hall (134,000) and Rosemoor (142,000), up 15 per cent on the total for 2008/09.

RHS membership fell again - by 3,000 to 359,000. The society is aiming to recruit 52,000 members in 2010 and for 83.5 per cent membership retention.

Total resources expended fell by two per cent to £60.4m. This, however, included an increase in the number of top earners paid more than £60,000 a year from 12 to 16. The highest earner was paid £130,000-£140,000.

RHS Chelsea, Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Flower Shows attracted 390,000 visitors, fewer than the hoped for 429,000. The target for 2010/11 is 401,000.

The RHS website had 700,000 unique users a month, 17 per cent up. The society sold 700,000 books and signed up 10,000 schools to its schools gardening programme.

Funds spent fell slightly by two per cent, including a reduction from £10.5m to £9.8m on gardens.

For 2010, the RHS has set itself a performance target of 55 per cent of UK-based exhibitors to find business at RHS shows the same or better than 2009.

President Giles Coode-Adams said: "Times will remain difficult but the RHS is fitter and better prepared for this." Acting director-general Gordon Seabright added that the 131 redundancies was a "painful process" that cost £1.4m but will save £1.7m a year.

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