Age Scotland brings in business experts to grow commercial arm

Older peopleweb

Scotland's leading older people's charity is setting up a new commercial enterprise in a bid to grow income while protecting the charity's name

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10th January 2017 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

Scotland's leading older people's charity has recruited a team of leading business people to run a new social enterprise to generate income for the charity.

The new Age Scotland Commercial Enterprises will take over the running of the charity’s shops, its training services and the current Age Scotland Enterprises services, which include insurance products for older people.

Its new board includes senior staff members from pensions specialist Hornbuckle Mitchell, Lloyds Banking Group, Morton Fraser lawyers, Aberdeen Asset investment management group and retailer John Lewis.

Former Age Scotland chief executive Brian Sloan has taken on the role of managing director of the new body, which aims to grow the business to ensure more sustainable income for the charity, making it less reliant on grant funding. Trading currently generates 20% of Age Scotland’s £3.5 million income.

Sloan told TFN part of the reason for the change was to protect the name of the charity, which is entirely separate organisations from its namesake Age UK. Last year Age UK Enterprises was criticised in the mainstream media over allegations its products didn’t offer the best deal for older people.

“We aren’t disguising the fact that these will be commercial services,” Sloan said. “So, if someone buys an insurance product from Age Scotland Commercial Enterprises, they are buying it from a commercial body, but the profits will be gifted back to the charity. They’re not buying from the charity.

“One of the strategic aims of this organisation will be protecting the reputation of Age Scotland, though, so any products and services will be relevant to older people.”

Age Scotland Enterprise was previously part of Age UK Enterprises, however last year full control was moved to Age Scotland. Age Scotland Commercial Enterprises will still have the ability to sell some of the same products, such as travel, car and home insurance deals, but will also be able to develop new products and services.

Sloan, however, insists this move is not designed to encourage risk but rather ensure there is greater capacity to explore new opportunities. New commercial ideas will be presented to and scrutinised by the commercial board, however final approval will remain with the charity board.

He said: “We’ve put a governance structure in place that means we don’t have commercial opportunities going straight to a charity board, which might not have the appropriate skill set to scrutinise them, but we also don’t want people on the commercial board running away with something when we must always protect the reputation of the name Age Scotland.”

As of the beginning of January Sloan has taken over as managing director of Age Scotland Commercial Enterprises while the charity's former deputy chief executive, Keith Robson, has taken on the role of chief executive of Age Scotland. 

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