Eden Project company made a loss of £756,000 last year, accounts show

The firm, which manages the Cornwall visitor attraction on behalf of the charity the Eden Trust, saw its turnover drop by £1.6m in the year to March 2014

The Eden Project
The Eden Project

The company that runs the visitor attraction the Eden Project on behalf of a charitable trust saw its turnover drop by £1.6m in the year to March 2014 and made a loss of more than £756,000 after interest, depreciation, and deferred grant releases, according to its latest accounts.

The accounts show that the Eden Project Ltd had a turnover of £17.5m in 2013/14, compared with £19.1m in 2012/13. The company made a loss of more than £6.4m after interest, depreciation, and deferred grant releases in 2012/13.

The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the registered charity the Eden Trust and manages the Cornwall visitor attraction on behalf of the charity.

The latest accounts show that the company made an operating profit before interest, depreciation and deferred grant release of £1.9m in 2013/14 compared with a loss of almost £938,000 in 2012/13.

The company said that its turnover fell as a result of "a combination of fewer visitors to Eden, alongside the end of certain projects within the year".

The accounts do not say how much visitor numbers fell during the period, but the latest published figures on the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions website show that visitor numbers at the Eden Project dropped almost 10 per cent in the calendar year 2013 to almost 859,000.

The accounts also show that the company made 68 staff redundant in 2013/14 and did not replace a further 50 roles. The job losses combined with further cost-saving measures brought annualised savings of about £4m, according to the accounts. The average number of employees during the year fell from 504 in 2012/13 to 419 a year later, the accounts state.

The accounts show that combined director pay dropped by almost £200,000  from £504,000 in 2012/13 to £317,000 in 2013/14. The fall followed the resignations of joint chief executives Sir Tim Smit and Gaynor Coley and foundation director Anthony Kendle. The highest-paid staff member received slightly more than £87,000 in 2013/14, compared with £157,000 in 2012/13.

But the accounts show that Smit and Kendle still earned almost £189,000 between them from the project in 2013/14. Collectively, they received almost £19,000 for the period they were still directors and a further £169,500 in payments as employees. The accounts do not say how much each earned.

In 2013 the Eden Project told Third Sector that Smit had become executive chairman of Eden Regeneration, a unit that will focus on the creation of projects at the attraction, and Kendle had joined him in an unspecified role at the unit. Companies House documents show that Smit rejoined the main board of Eden Project Ltd in July 2014.

In June 2014, the company also appointed Gordon Seabright as a director and executive committee chair.

Nobody at the Eden Project responded to requests for comment by Third Sector.

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