After many years of consistent growth, 2017 was a demanding year for CABI financially with a slow first half of the year for income generation leading to an overall decline in revenue for the full year. Total sales and project income at £33,358k (2016: £34,850k) reduced by 4% in 2017 with declines in project revenue from both the Knowledge Business and International Development. However, publishing product sales grew by 7% driven by a mix of organic growth and foreign exchange. International Development project revenue declined after many years of continuous growth as a result of some delays in donor funding. However, additional contract income secured for major programmes in the second half of 2017, together with significant funding committed for work to be led by the CABI office in Pakistan, means the prospects for growth in International Development in 2018 are good.
At the end of March 2017, the charity SciDev.Net was acquired by CABI. SciDev.Net was formed 16 years ago and is widely recognised as a world leading source of original news and analysis on scientific evidence and technological innovation for global development. It has established brand recognition for independent journalism in the development sector. The acquisition has created opportunities for CABI to grow and develop capabilities in the development communications sector and in 2017, over the nine months operating as part of CABI, SciDev.Net contributed £561k of income and a £50k surplus to the consolidated financial performance. Significant revenue growth is anticipated in 2018 and beyond.
Total Operating surplus decreased in 2017 to £459k (2016: £652k) although the prior year financial performance was boosted by significant foreign exchange gains arising from the post-Brexit weakening of the British pound. Looking to 2018, a return to income growth is anticipated driven by the strong pipeline for CABI’s major programmes and projects.
The UK Defined Benefit Scheme pension deficit remains a major financial challenge for the organisation and has required increasing contributions to be made by CABI. The results of the next formal valuation, taken as of 31 December 2017, will become available in 2018 and an increase in the deficit is highly probable. In its approach to the UK pension deficit, it remains the case that the CABI Board continues to balance the need to manage this long term (estimated) liability while continuing to invest in growth and the delivery of objectives set out in the Medium Term plan.
Chief Financial Officer