Tuesday, March 27, 2018

News: Magna reports a fall in income

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Depreciation charges and the high costs of running an attraction in a huge former Rotherham steelworks means that expenditure continued to exceed income in the most recent accounts for operator, Magna.

Set in the former Templeborough steelworks, Magna is a family attraction with more than 100 hands-on exhibits. Millions of pounds have been invested in conference facilities at the centre which is operated by a charity, the Magna Trust.

For the year ending March 29 2017, the Magna Trust had income of £1.77m, down from the £2m received in 2016. Total expenditure was £2.77m, down from the £2.99m in the previous year.

Net expenditure for the year was £996,328, similar to the previous year, but includes a depreciation charge of around £1m (also similar to 2016) which is an accounting entry with no effect on the cash reserves of the charity.

Exluding the depreciation, the net inflow of resources was actually £22,348, down from £97,120 in 2016.

The charity attracted over 87,000 visitors including 27,000 school visitors to the attraction and over 50,000 people attended corporate events in the period.

Income comes from visits to the attraction, donations and grants. Magna also operates commercial trading operations with income from the trading activities of the Magna project such as retail, catering and corporate hire.

The visitor attraction brought in £393,063 which is down from the £518,661 for the previous year. Commercial trading income also dropped. 2017 was £761,459 compared to the 2016 figure of £862,142.

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Magna Trust is a company limited by guarantee. The members of the company are Rotherham Council, The Stadium Group and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce. The project has been financed by grants from the Millennium Commission, English Partnerships, The European Regional Development Fund, Rotherham Council and private sector contributions.

It does not receive any public subsidy or revenue grant. However, in 2015, Rotherham Council endorsed a plan to restructure outstanding Council loans that would enable Magna to have a more secure future.

A loan for £300,000 was issued to the Magna Trust in 2006/07 and of this £190,000 was still outstanding as at March 31 2017. No repayments on this loan were made in 2015/16. The Council issued to Magna a short term loan of £250,000 during 2014/15. This was also outstanding as at the March 31 2017.

Following an external assessment by PwC of Magna's business plan, the Council and Magna have been in the process of agreeing a new combined loan agreement, covering both loans. Repayments were set to commence in 2017/18.

The charity prepared a business plan for the three years to March 2020. The latest accounts state that the "plan shows a level of funding required that is met by the normal trading projections and other revenue streams of the charity during the period of the plan."

It adds: "The Trustees continue to seek opportunities to derive additional revenue from the charities property assets and utilise spare capacity. The Trustees continue to involve the charity's stakeholders in its plans with a view to maintaining their on going support, and have received no indication that this support will cease."

Following the end of the 2017 financial year, it was announced that Magna was set to be the new location for a £20m global centre of excellence in glass. However, the "Glass Futures" project has since had to look elsewhere stating that "the facility footprint required is significantly greater than that available at the Magna site."

In August 2017, Magna was rocked by the death of its chief executive, John Silker.

Brian Chapple, a trustee at Magna, said: "John worked tirelessly and with passion to realise Magna's potential and drive it to be the best it can be. He was devoted to the venue and was a friend, as well as a colleague, to many ... the staff and trustees will continue the work that John started."

Fellow tustee, Kevin Tomlinson, was named as the chief executive on a temporary basis and plans are in place to improve the level of free reserves. Around £10m of Magna's reserves is restricted as it is linked to the initial construction of the project.

Structuring the cost base and management around anticipated levels of activity in the short term and the search for external funds for capital replacement are part of the plans.

Magna website

Images: Magna

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