AHDB to reduce costs by £7.8m including shake up of leadership team

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AHDB will make £7.8m of reductions from its annual staff and overheads budget of £29m as part of plans to reduce operational costs and improve efficiency over the next two years, starting with key changes being made to the organisation’s leadership team.

As part of the commitment to reducing bureaucracy and costs, outlined in the Change Programme for 2021 to 2026, reductions of around £6m will come from the wind-down of the Horticulture and Potato sectors. Most of the reductions will be in place by March 2022, with the remainder during 2022/23.

Further savings in general expenditure are planned through a number of changes, including the number of senior managers being cut from 20 to 14, a reduction of 30%.

As part of the restructure, the Board of AHDB is pleased to announce that Will Jackson, Chief Strategy Officer, will take on the role of Divisional Director – Engagement while Interim CEO/Chief Finance and Operations Officer, Ken Boyns, will become AHDB’s new Divisional Director – Services.

AHDB Chair Nicholas Saphir said: “This new structure puts a clear focus on day-to-day delivery across all our knowledge exchange, technical, market intelligence, exports and marketing work. At the same time there will be absolute focus on levy payer engagement and involvement in planning sector priorities and programmes.

“With our new team now taking shape, this autumn we will be ready to unveil fundamental changes to the way levy payers can have a better say regarding what we provide, including the introduction of regular votes on a wide range of services and delivery.

“The revised senior management team will be in place at the beginning of September ready for the arrival of the new CEO Tim Rycroft.”

AHDB is also reviewing the office provision at its Stoneleigh headquarters.

Interim CEO Ken Boyns said: “Just as the industry is going through significant change, AHDB is modernising, altering its shape and that includes a review of the current ways we work in a post-Covid environment.

“As part of a further phase of savings in 2022/23 we have identified the opportunity of subletting part of our Stoneleigh HQ.

“The reduction in work for Potatoes and Horticulture, combined with the last 18 months proving we can deliver effectively without all staff in the office five days a week, means we do not need as much office space.”

Chair Nicholas Saphir added: “We have listened to levy payers’ demands for a reduction in operating costs and delivering better value for money through our services.

“Our key priority remains making a positive difference to farm businesses and helping to grow British agriculture through our key services, such as the Recommended List, market and trade data, developing emerging opportunities through exports and protecting the industry’s reputation with consumers.

“We will be asking levy payers to register to vote this autumn, prior to having their say on those topics in spring 2022. We will be announcing more details in the early autumn of 2021.”

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