Suffolk Agricultural Association cuts its deficit

THE body responsible for the prestigious Suffolk Show has managed to improve its trading position - in the face of increasingly tough conditions, it says

Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) executive director Chris Bushby said it was “extremely pleasing” that it had managed to reduce its deficit by nearly 16% to �190,000. Increased requests for stands, sponsorship and more livestock entries, which were now being drawn from further afield as well as locally, underlined the continuing popularity of the show, which takes place at Trinity Park, Ipswich, he added.

Introducing the SAA’s annual report, published this week, chairman Stephen Fletcher said although agriculture was counter cyclical, it did not “sit in its own cocoon”, adding that the organisation continues “in good heart”.

The SAA is in the process of preparing a master plan, which is being produced as a background for a planning permission it intends to submit early this year to develop 18 acres at the west of the site.

“Whilst nothing is certain, it is good to be making future plans so that, as and when we are able to afford to make changes, we are well prepared,” he said.

“For some time, we have been aware of the shortcomings of our site. Whilst it has many attractions, including good road access, free draining soil and increasingly attractive environment, experience tells us that there are major improvements which could be undertaken to make it even better.”

Mr Bushby was upbeat about the financial performance of the SAA, and how it had cut its debt.

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“This is extremely pleasing given the tough economic climate that’s out there that could have had a negative impact on the Suffolk Show and could have had a negative impact on our trading activities,” he said.

Instead, over the past two years, it had seen an improved performance financially, he said.

But he added: “In terms of the Suffolk Show we have been fortunate to have good weather.”

The SAA, now in its 181st year, had to keep investing in the quality of the show, he said.

Show income increased by 3%, but that was against a backdrop of rising costs. There was a welcome extra expense, he added, which was an 11.8% increase in the total prize money awarded to participants in the various competitions which reflected their growing popularity.

“That’s a nice story to tell,” he said.