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Weather and visitor trends contribute to financial loss for Royal Norfolk Show

PUBLISHED: 18:55 27 April 2017 | UPDATED: 18:55 27 April 2017

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the 2016 Royal Norfolk Show. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the 2016 Royal Norfolk Show. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2016

The organisation behind the Royal Norfolk Show says poor weather, a rise in non-paying school visitors and a national downward attendance trend all contributed to a financial loss for last year.

The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) told members at its annual meeting that the organisation made a loss of £133,100 in 2016 – a slight improvement against 2015, when it posted a loss of £155,200.

The deficit comes despite a crowd of 80,000 arriving at the showground for last summer’s county showcase, including the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

But that figure contained a greater proportion of non-paying visitors, which the RNAA said is partly due to the success of efforts to meet its educational goals by encouraging more school groups.

In his report, RNAA chairman Sir Nicholas Bacon says: “The top level figure of just over 80,000 (visitors) may appear to be faintly reassuring, but the make-up of that figure, with the increased number of non-paying schools and a downturn in paying visitors, impacts the financial position quite considerably.

“The positive in this are that our investments performed better than expected and our businesses have been cash generative.

“There are many and varied good things that are going on in our association and specifically at the Royal Norfolk Show but, as our results illustrate, our ability to extend our charitable purposes is restricted by the financial position and the trustees and executive team are fully committed to addressing the deficit and seeking new means of enabling finance.”

The RNAA’s accounts show £2,457,833 was spent on charitable activities in 2016, up from £2,357,953 the previous year.

Sir Nicholas said the membership had grown slightly during the year, and also outlined the work to improve education and promote understanding of the agricultural industry through events such as Agri-Tech Week, the Spring Fling, Norfolk Careers Festival and Harfest at Norwich Cathedral.

Beyond the Royal Norfolk Show, the RNAA’s trading activities have grown with Norfolk Showground Ltd making a profit of £94,118 on an income of £541,525 – up from £471,377 in 2015.

Finance director Grant Pilcher said: “We have again incurred a further deficit, which I have to say is disappointing. But we continue to expand our enabling business and we continue to expand our income from the showground.

“The Royal Norfolk Show was significantly affected again by weather. 2016 will be remembered as a cold and wet show, and the deficit could be tracked to the missing few we hoped would come.

“We are not alone in the show world in having lower attendances but we clearly remain a good show with a strong reputation for providing what we think is the best two-day show in the country. Our trade standing and livestock entries remain very strong.”

The meeting also gave a vote of thanks to “inspirational” outgoing show president Prof David Richardson, vice chancellor of the UEA, who handed on the role to the Very Rev Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich, who was appointed as the RNAA president for 2017.

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