HIC boss ‘not worried’ about income gap

Harrogate International Centre
Harrogate International Centre
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The Harrogate International Centre’s head of operations has said he is ‘not worried’ about a forecasted £175,000 gap in income this year.

A general fund revenue report presented to Harrogate Borough Councils cabinet showed that the HIC board had re-estimated the forecast for the financial year 2013/14 from an annual loss of £998,410 to £1,167,000.

The report also states the HIC is falling short of its ‘challenging target’ by £175,000.

Simon Kent, head of operations at the HIC said he wasn’t worried about these figures at this stage in the year.

“If it was close to the end of the year it would be different but we are hoping to see that gap close month by month as the financial year goes on.”

Mr Kent also dismissed recent criticism of a promotional event which cost £50,000.

He said The Planes, Trains and Automobiles event was a success and that this pro-active approach was the best way for the HIC to win custom.

“This is the best way to market the international centre, to bring people to Harrogate and show them.

“You have to be pro-active in this market and go out and get customers, and this is part of our pro-active approach.”

Figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act show that the event, which included an indoor golf driving range, a full-size Formula One car simulator, a Mad Hatter’s tea party and black tie dinner, cost £50,000 to stage.

Harrogate resident Alan Huddart has criticised the event and said his friends who attended said they felt uncomfortable there.

“It was aimed at people with spending power in conferences, but my friends don’t have that. They felt they were there to fill the room.”

The FOI response also revealed that the HIC receives discounts or free products and services from local partners.

Mr Huddart said: “It isn’t very good that they are asking local businesses for free stuff. I bet the NEC in Birmingham or other places won’t go cap in hand to local businesses.”

“I understand that you need to spend money to make money but I’m not sure that this was the best way. Rather than trying to get people to come to Harrogate. Perhaps it would have been best to advertise at events in London.”

The HIC has credited the event with securing two five year contracts with the Christmas and Gift event and the Harrogate Nursery Fair, worth millions of pounds.

Mr Kent said: “I also have other meetings arranged as a result of the event. The event has generated millions pound of contracts so far and talks are still ongoing.”