RUAS elects new president at AGM

Members at today’s Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) annual meeting elected a new president and heard that 2018 had been a year of “accelerated progress” for the society.

Billy Martin will take up the mantle from Cyril Millar who has been the organisation’s president for the last two years.

At the meeting, chairman of the Finance Committee, John Martin, explained that in the last financial year (ending October 31, 2018), the society returned net incomes on ordinary activities (before other gains and losses) of £1.4 million.

Martin said the result was in line with the society’s financial projections with fixed assets of the group valued at £26.9 million including the King’s Hall Complex.

Additions to the society’s tangible fixed assets included the completion of RUAS’ second exhibition facility, the Dr. E.F. Logan Hall, as well as improvements to the Eikon Exhibition Centre and Balmoral Park.

Charitable activities

Over the year, RUAS spent £3.2 million on charitable activities, including support costs.

These activities generated total revenues of £2.8 million resulting in a deficit of just under £517,000. Martin explained this demonstrates the need to secure “sustainable enabling finance” to support the core charitable activities of the society – the delivery of its agri-events.

The subsidiary companies of the society engage in commercial activities solely to generate enabling finance to enable the society to fulfil its charitable objectives. During the financial year, the subsidiaries generated just over £2 million of net income.

The year was a period of “increasing momentum” for the King’s Hall Exhibition and Conference Centre Limited with the launch of the Dr. E.F. Logan Hall enhancing the venue’s offering to the events industry and positioning it as the largest events campus in Northern Ireland.

The company is intent on the expansion of the existing business and development of new commercial opportunities at the Eikon Exhibition Centre. Trading projections are in line with expectations and reflect the strategic objectives of the society.

Members also heard that the development at Harberton BT9, which is managed through the King’s Hall Harberton Estates Ltd, was expected to be completed well ahead of schedule.

The society also established a third trading subsidiary company, K.H. Balmoral Estates Limited, during October 2017. This company is engaged in managing the development agreement granted for the commercial development of the site.

John Martin said: “We are now enjoying a new and aspirational period in the history of this society. Council and finance committee are carefully steering the financial path for the RUAS so that the objectives set by our membership for future generations will be realised.

“We have a talented and committed staff, a dedicated Council and a membership who have embraced change for the betterment and long term sustainability of this society.”