At the Annual Meeting of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society held on Friday 10th March 2023 at T3 Conference Centre, Mr John Martin, Chairman of the Finance Committee, said:
The year to 31st October 2022 has heralded the Society's emergence from a most challenging period in its history, as reflected in the financial results presented today with the Society generating a surplus from ordinary activities of £562,978 for the financial year. The fixed assets of the Group are valued at £19,345,953, which includes both the residential and commercial property assets at the King's Hall Complex. Reviewing the Society's financial activities John Martin noted that the Society expensed £2,893,056 on charitable activities, including support costs. These activities generated total revenues of £2,785,957, resulting in a deficit of £107,099. This represents a positive variance of £627,759 on the previous year.
The charitable activities during the financial year included hosting the fourth Royal Ulster Premier Beef & Lamb Championships, in association with principal sponsor Bank of Ireland on Tuesday 23rd November 2021. The Society welcomed the return of visitors to the Show and Sale, having implemented COVID-19 mitigations and a record number of exceptional quality animals were entered. The following month, the Society was pleased to return to a live format for the 35th Royal Ulster Winter Fair in Association with Danske Bank on Thursday 9th December 2021. Attendance at the event exceeded expectations, given the prevailing COVID-19 restrictions. The event hosted sector-specific trade stands, including companies from Italy, France, Germany, and Florida.
With the relaxation of COVID-19 regulations, the 153rd Balmoral Show took place from the 11th to 14th May 2022 and the Society was delighted to welcome a significant number of visitors over the four days. The Show was well supported by livestock exhibitors in all sections, and the Society is grateful for their ongoing support. Over 520 trade exhibitors supported the Show, including 30 new trade exhibitors and many long-standing trade exhibitors. The Show's success is also dependent on the continued support of the Show sponsors.
The subsidiary companies of the Society engage in commercial activities solely to generate funds to enable the Society to fulfil its charitable objectives and during the financial year generated a surplus of £1,100,582. The financial year was a period of recovery and growth for the Eikon Exhibition Centre, with long-standing commercial clients returning after the pandemic. King's Hall Harberton Estates Limited, generated capital funds to be prudently managed to secure the Society's viable future at Balmoral Park for future generations. KH Balmoral Estates Limited oversaw the commercial development within the King's Hall Complex, including the leasing of the second Data Works building and construction of “Over 55 Living” apartments. As part of the development, the listed King's Hall building will be restored and refurbished. Development options for the 16-acre site include medical services, car parking, retail space and leisure facilities.
John Martin concluded by advising that during the year and subsequent to the reporting period, the cost of living crisis has affected the Society in terms of increasing costs, particularly fuel, energy, and contracted labour costs. Furthermore, the spiralling cost of construction will impact the viability of future capital projects. However Council is confident that with the resources it has in place and the efforts of its staff, committees, members, exhibitors and other stakeholders, the organisation will continue its beneficial work in line with its charitable objectives.