Response to Ayrshire Post news article about hospice shops

Response to Ayrshire Post news article about hospice shops

Posted on 16 December 2015 by Katie Ronald

As a local charity that relies on the goodwill and generosity of all our supporters, the Ayrshire Hospice makes every effort to maximise the income generated from all the donated goods we receive.  Our shops network across Ayrshire simply could not survive without the kind donations from our supporters and we are extremely grateful for them.

We do all that we can to avoid discarding donated goods but, like all charity shops, have to follow strict trading standards rules that are designed to protect our customers’ safety.  All toys we offer for re-sale must display the CE safety mark and be contained within appropriate packaging.  Prams and bikes must be tested and be in good working order including fully functional wheels and brakes.  Furniture must display original fire safety labelling. Our strict sorting and pricing procedures mean that we will only offer items that are fit for resale; items that are clean and undamaged.   It is important that our supporters realise that we do all that we can to make best use of their donations and to avoid expensive landfill costs.  Discarding donated items is an absolute last resort for the Ayrshire Hospice.

Many of our shops do face challenges when it comes to storing and sorting donated items due to lack of space and manpower.  On occasion we have to try and stem the flow of donations, by temporarily suspending our ability to accept goods, particularly at peak times of the year. This allows us to clear space and sort through existing stock.  To help alleviate storage space issues, we are currently developing a central warehousing facility in Ayr that will allow us to store, sort and re-distribute donations even more efficiently throughout our network of nine shops. We are also hoping to reopen our pound shop in the new year to make sure we are doing all that we can to realise income for stock that may not have sold in any of our other shops, but which we feel still has some re-sale value. 

Our shops network relies heavily on the support and availability of almost 220 trained volunteers who are skilled in assessing donations, customer service and who follow pricing guidelines that aim to make the most of our stock.  Our market research also helps us to maximise the resale value of stock by matching goods with each shop’s individual customer base.  For instance baby and children’s clothes do not sell well in our Ayr shop, and these types of donations will often be re-distributed to other shops within the network where they are in demand and have shown to sell well.

Over the last year, our shops network generated almost £850,000 worth of valuable income for the hospice.  We have stores in Ayr - Crown Street and Kyle Street, Troon, Kilmarnock, Largs, Girvan, Cumnock, Kilwinning and have also recently opened our newest store in Irvine.  In 2016 we will look to expand further by opening a new store in one of the Three Towns in North Ayrshire.

 

In the latest UK Charity Shops Survey, Ayrshire Hospice shops achieved the second highest profit margin (60.3%) across all hospices surveyed and third highest profit margin overall.  This compares to larger charity organisations such as Oxfam, Marie Curie and Cancer Research who achieved profit margins of 29.8%, 23.7% and 32.1% respectively.  In addition, Ayrshire Hospice shops deliver the third highest average profit per shop per week (£1,523) amongst hospices with fewer than ten shops.  This compares to the sector average profit per shop per week of £563, almost two-thirds lower than the hospice weekly average. 

Crown Street in Ayr is one of our top-performing stores, supported by a fantastic team of over 40 volunteers and continues to accept the biggest level of donations from our generous supporters.  Volunteering opportunities within Ayrshire Hospice shops network can be found at www.ayrshirehospice.org

Colin Loy, Director of Finance and Income Generation, Ayrshire Hospice