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Coronavirus / Amenity trust could lose 90 per cent of commercial income, chief executive says

Shetland Amenity Trust's main office in Lerwick.Shetland Amenity Trust's main office at Garthspool in Lerwick.

SHETLAND Amenity Trust could lose as much as 90 per cent of its usual commercial income this year, according to its chief executive.

Mat Roberts said that “between cost saving measures and a small amount of commercial income that we will generate, I hope the gap that we have is one that we can live with”.

The trust was forced to shut its sites in March and a Scottish Government route map published recently suggested that facilities like its museum in Lerwick could reopen in the third phase of lockdown relaxation with social distancing measures in place.

The first phase launched today (Friday), with a change in how people can meet other households among the alterations.

Roberts believes that the market for the trust’s sites will largely be locals in the short term – further hitting income that the organisation takes in through attractions like Sumburgh Head and festivals such as Wool Week.

“We won’t lose all of our income,” he said. “We nearly do about £900,000 worth of commercial trading – we’re not going to see anything like that.

“We’ll do well to do ten per cent of that.”

The trust receives funding from the likes of Shetland Charitable Trust and Shetland Islands Council, but it relies on commercial income to plug the gap.

An online donations programme has proved popular, and the trust is hoping to publish a Shetland Wool Week annual this year despite the 2020 festival being cancelled.

Roberts said the trust has “introduced and are continuing to work on a series of cost-cutting measures” as management study the organisation’s outgoings.

Savings have been made through a reduction in travel and utility bills, while some supply contracts and insurance premiums have been renegotiated. Most of its staff are also furloughed.

“Every single line item has been scrutinised,” Roberts said.

The trust has also applied for funding, with £25,000 coming in from the government’s small business support grant – but a request for cash from the third sector resilience fund failed.