British Heart Foundation lost more than £40m from shop closures last year, accounts show

The charity's total income was £86m in the year to the end of March, down from £151m in the previous 12 months

A British Heart Foundation shop
A British Heart Foundation shop

The British Heart Foundation’s charity shop network lost more than £40m last year as more than 700 shops were closed for up to eight months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity’s latest accounts, for the year ending 31 March, show a 40 per cent drop in total annual income, from £151m in 2019/20 to £86m last year.

Spending also fell by more than £50m to £74m, down from £128m in the previous year.

The charity still spent more than £74m on charitable activities, but admitted it had to make some “very difficult decisions” over the course of the year.

Its accounts show the charity undertook a consultation programme with about 300 staff members that resulted in 100 redundancies at a cost of £1.4m. In addition, 160 budgeted roles were left vacant following a recruitment freeze.

Nearly 3,500 of BHF’s 4,229 staff are employed in its 729 shops.

Its accounts show “a significant proportion” of these employees were furloughed during lockdown but its retail trading arm recorded a net loss of £40.5m, which includes £31.6m of furlough and other government support.

However, the charity recorded its busiest day on record, with more than £1m in sales, when shops reopened their doors for the first time in nearly four months at the start of April.

Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive of the BHF, said: “Our annual report highlights the devastating impact the pandemic has had on our finances as our shops closed their doors and much-loved fundraising events were cancelled.

“At the same time people with heart and circulatory diseases, many of whom are at increased risk of serious illness from Covid-19, needed us more than ever.

“I am proud that during this turbulent time we were able to be there for the millions of people who turned to us for support and information about the impact of Covid-19 on heart health.

“Similarly, our commitment to our lifesaving research did not falter.“

Griffiths said the charity had taken urgent steps to protect its £450m investment in pioneering research, had kept its doors open for new research bids, and supported its scientists to redirect their research towards Covid-19 research projects.

She said: “In this undoubtedly tough year we had to make very difficult choices to protect our lifesaving work, which sadly meant that valued colleagues had to leave the BHF.

“Today, as we look to the future, our ambitions are undiminished.

“We are determined to recover our income, fund even more world-class research and put people affected by heart and circulatory diseases at the heart of everything we do.”

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