Annual Commercial Committee Report

September 15, 2008

[image1]Well, it’s been another busy year with more cup success on the back of the previous season!
 
This is the end of the second full year of my sitting on the Executive Committee as well as chairing the Commercial sub-committee and it has been no less busy than last year.
 
I’m pleased to be able to make this report now rather than in two months time as has been the case in recent years when the AGM has been held a lot later than this year. There has always been the desire to hold the AGM nearer to the end of the season to which it relates to but in the past the timing of the completion of the annual accounts has normally meant that the a date in November/December is the best that can be achieved. However, the production of the final accounts has now been “brought inside” giving us greater control over completion dates, and my thanks go to Jane Browne who has embraced the changes brought about by the introduction of the EPOS and Sage systems and their ongoing development and integration. This is very much a work-in-progress and we fully intend to continue to maximise the benefits achieved from both systems.
 
EPOS
 
As noted above, we are making progress with developing the system and I mentioned in my report last year that the back-office capabilities needed bringing up to the level of those of the front of house. I’m pleased to report that, with the help of the software supplier, we are enabling greater levels of reporting which in turn makes the financial accounting side of the operation that much easier. The system allows for analytical review of stock lines, departments, groups and locations which gives Steve Burns invaluable information at his fingertips to enable timely decision making and hence maximising opportunities and profitability.
 
Accounts
 
As reported elsewhere on our website, the accounts of the Supporters Club and the Share Scheme have now been completed and await adoption at the AGM next week.
 
The Share Scheme accounts show an 18% drop in contributions compared with the previous year which reflects the number of members who have dropped out and inevitably the economic climate has had an effect here. The Scheme is currently due to end in December this year although it is still being actively promoted by the Share Scheme Committee who are also looking into a successor scheme. David Brain will be able to give further details as they become available.
 
Turning to the Supporters Club accounts, it would be useful at this point to remind fans that the Supporters Club continue to operate most of the commercial and ticketing activities on behalf of the football club and Steve Burns and his team of loyal staff and volunteers deserve the utmost praise for their hard work and dedication to the cause. I mention this as the accounts of the Supporters Club, which is essentially a club set up to provide benefits for its members, necessarily read more like those of a commercial retail organisation!
 
In terms of figures, sales of merchandising fell year on year by around 11%. The major influences on this were firstly the economic climate of course but also there was “only” the FA Cup run this year compared to visits to the Millenium and Wembley stadia last year with all the merchandise spin-offs that those trips attracted. Putting this into perspective the turnover achieved this year was still very good. This season of course is going to be extremely difficult and we will need to be sensitive to the levels of fans’ disposable income.
 
The 50:50 draw continues to be successful and it is heartening to see such a high percentage of our home attendance buying a ticket.
 
Profit on transport to away games was down on last year but obviously reflects the Millenium and Wembley trips. Whilst setting prices for away trips, we are conscious that this is a benefit of membership and not a profit line as such. However, with the rising cost of fuel we must also ensure that losses are not incurred, the effect of which would affect all our members – not just those that travel with us.
 
As a result of the levels of cash we were holding at the end of last season, we have earned significantly more bank interest than in previous years and rest assured we regularly review our banking arrangements in an ever changing market.
 
Overheads have largely stayed the same with the exception of bank charges which include the cost of running the various visa machines we use and are net of booking fees received. Again, the Millenium/Wembley effect – on the volume of ticketing last year compared to this has had a bearing here.
 
The Balance Sheet is also affected in this way with bank funds and monies owed to suppliers being significantly higher last year than this due to our visit to Wembley being shortly before the accounts year end.
 
Share Scheme
 
In my report last year I stated my intention to publish a short monthly financial review for members and this has now been in place for the last nine months. It can be accessed in the News section of the Share Scheme area of our website. This information in turn is used by David Brain for his programme notes.
 
Website
 
Following on from my notes last year, I have been assisting the Communications Committee in developing the website and posting articles from time to time. I’m pleased to report that we now have the excellent help of Peter Gibson in this area and I’m sure you’ll here more about this from Dennis Payter in his Communications Report.
 
Commercial Reporting
 
With the improvements in the EPOS system as referred to above, I have been able to prepare a monthly commercial report for presentation to the FC board which has been going now since last December. With remote access I’m able to complete the report and have it e-mailed to board members 2 or 3 days following month end! In reality though, of course, this should be a basic benefit of such a system.
 
Commercial Committee  
 
The committee has met a number of times during the year and if anyone is interested in joining please contact me either on matchday or via either Pirate Leisure or Kingswood.
 
Finally, if anyone has any suggestions or comments they would be very welcome.
 
Clive Farquhar
Commercial Committee Chairman
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