The leading equine bodies in Britain are to relocate to new centralised offices in Warwickshire, with the British Show Jumping Association (BSJA) currently the only prevaricators.
The British Horse Society (BHS) plans to build a head office in Stoneleigh Park and has invited the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) and all 16 of its member bodies to share them.
BHS chief executive Graham Cory said: “This will capitalise on the much better relationship we all share now and the enormous goodwill we all have. One big new office will mean better communication and efficiency — though we’re all working on different aspects, we are all working to promote the sport.”
In 2004, a Deloitte & Touche report examining the way British equestrian sport is run was critical of the “silo mentality” preventing these bodies from collaborating better. It pointed to the self-interest of BEF member bodies, and unnecessary duplication, with the failure to centralise databases, communications and purchasing. The BHS and the BSJA were cited as the two main “sticking points”.
Three years later, BEF chief executive Andrew Finding said the federation has gone “full circle”.
“We see this as helping us to provide a real focal point for equestrianism. It is the beginning of very significant aspirations we have at Stoneleigh,” he said. “In order to be a serious professional organisation, we need to have a serious and professional office.
“There are no plans to as yet centralise IT and other services, the move will be the catalyst for change and to make everyone’s life easier.”
A number of the member bodies have already expressed their firm commitment to moving in. The only negative voice is that of the BSJA. While supportive of the idea in principle, chief executive Jacky Wood said the association wants some equity in the building.
“The BHS trustees don’t want this, so we are negotiating,” she said. “It’s membership money and the rent will be three times what we pay now. That will be dead money if we don’t have equity.”
But BD chief executive David Holmes said the BHS was offering favourable terms and a rent that will still be cheaper than market rate.
Mr Cory estimates the new building will be 25,000- 30,000sq ft, with a 250-seat auditorium and “hot desk” areas for smaller member bodies and other organisations to use.
It will be financed by a mixture of bank loans, BHS cash and the proceeds of the sale of the BHS’s site at Stoneleigh Deer Park. Architects have been appointed, and the next step will be to look at details of the space required from each member body.
Read this news story in full in the current issue of Horse & Hound (6 September, ’07)