RHS to Reshape for Future Growth

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Gardening Charity announces changes to its Leadership Team

The RHS is making changes to its structure to further modernise and improve the organisation as it takes another step closer to realising its vision to be one Society that is open, easy to understand, and welcome to all.

The changes to the Leadership Team, effective 01 January 2014, will ensure customers receive a consistent level of world class horticulture, excellent service delivery and inspiring product innovation wherever they are in the world of the RHS. It will also mean the Society is in the best shape to deliver its long term programme of ten major projects that will see it invest more than £27 million in the future of horticulture*.

The most significant element of the RHS restructure will be the amalgamation of the three divisions of Gardens, Shows and Retail into one unified division that will work together to improve synergies and consistency for RHS customers, and increase the delivery of new innovations in products and services.

RHS Director General Sue Biggs said: “These changes will put us in a great position to deliver one of the most exciting phases of growth in the charity’s history. The newly structured Leadership Team will have a clear focus on delivering our incredible projects and driving efficiencies, whilst making sure our members and visitors get a warm RHS welcome and even more inspirational horticulture and experiences across all our visitor destinations and activities.

“This will also enable us to inspire more people to garden and get involved with horticulture, and to continue our commitment to drive the all-important Horticulture Matters campaign forward, raising the profile of horticultural careers.”

The key changes are:

RHS Gardens, Shows & Retail
A new role, RHS Director of Gardens, Shows & Retail, has been created to oversee the portfolio of activities across the Society’s Gardens, Shows and Retail. It will have responsibility for the increasing success of our world class horticulture and visitor experiences, which in turn will generate further income to invest in RHS initiatives, including Campaign for School Gardening, apprenticeships, scientific research, and the conservation of plants, botanical art and horticultural books.

The separate divisions of Gardens, Shows and Retail will be combined into one vibrant, customer-focussed division responsible for delivering the very best horticulture and events, shopping, plant centres, cafes and restaurants.

RHS Head of Retail, Will Havercroft, will report into the RHS Director of Gardens, Shows & Retail. He will continue to manage RHS Retail and the investment project at RHS Garden Wisley, and will remain on the Leadership Team reporting into RHS Director General, Sue Biggs, until the new Director’s position is filled.

The creation of the new division means there will no longer be a separate RHS Director of Shows and RHS Director of Gardens and both roles have been made redundant, although RHS Director of Gardens James Rudoni and Director of Shows Stephen Bennett will continue in post until the end of the year.

Over the last five years James has taken RHS Gardens from strength to strength and today more than one and a half million visitors enjoy the four gardens each year. James has introduced a number of successful events, including Butterflies in the Glasshouse at RHS Garden Wisley and the popular Flowers Shows at Hyde Hall and Wisley, which have both recently enjoyed record visitor numbers.

Sue Biggs said: “On behalf of everyone at the RHS, I’d like to thank James for his hard work, infectious enthusiasm and commitment to widen the appeal and quality of the RHS Gardens over the years. We look forward to staying in touch and wish him all the best for the future.”

Stephen, who has worked for the RHS for 28 years, has seen the RHS Chelsea Flower Show become an internationally admired, world renowned horticultural showpiece, attracting over 160,000 visitors each year. Stephen also instigated Chelsea Charity Gala Preview and the RHS management of RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, which is the largest annual gardening event in the world.

Sue said: “We thank Stephen for all his loyalty, dedication and work over the years. He has helped us to consistently deliver some of the best and most famous gardening events in the world, which today are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors and attract worldwide media attention. Ever the showman, Stephen has entertained and charmed us over the years; I look forward to seeing him at Chelsea and wish him the very best for the future.”

Also in the Shows Team, RHS Head of Judging, Bob Sweet, has decided to retire from the RHS. Sue commented: “I’d like to thank Bob on behalf of the RHS for his contributions to the success of so many RHS Shows. In his previous role he was responsible for ensuring the highest horticultural standards at our world famous events. Bob also introduced Britain in Bloom to the RHS and helped us to develop RHS judging to be a leader in its field. We wish Bob well, especially with his voluntary work with his local horticultural causes, and look forward to welcoming him back to Chelsea next year as our guest.”

RHS Executive Vice President
Jim Gardiner, currently Director of Horticulture, will take on a new role, Executive Vice President, the first in the history of the RHS. Jim will be the RHS’ primary ambassador to promote and share horticultural excellence and his new role will help the RHS work more closely with the rest of the horticultural world. He will help the RHS to share best practice, source external expert advice for its major investment projects and raise the profile of the Horticulture Matters campaign. The search for the new Director of Horticulture will now begin. The two high profile roles further embed Horticulture at the heart of the RHS and across all its work.

RHS Head of Communications
The RHS Head of PR role will be upgraded to RHS Head of Communications and, from 01 October 2013, Hayley Monckton is promoted to be a member of the RHS Leadership Team, overseeing all internal communications as well as external communications. The role will report to the Director General, reflecting the increasing importance of communicating the impact of the RHS major investment projects, Horticulture Matters, and the Society’s far reaching work to as wide an audience of staff, volunteers, members, supporters and the public as possible.


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3043 or email pressoffice@rhs.org.uk

*RHS ten major projects totalling an investment of at least £27 Million, £10 million of which needs to be raised through a major fundraising campaign

RHS Lindley Library & Hall, London
The RHS plans to redevelop the Lindley Hall and Library to create a stunning, new space for a larger, open plan library and exhibition gallery. Through increased London Flower Shows, support of specialist nurseries, exhibitions, lectures, events and courses, everyone will, for the first time, be able to enjoy the RHS’ Collections of literary and botanical art treasures. These are of international significance and chart 500 years of UK gardening history.

RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey
To give the one million adults and children who visit RHS Garden Wisley annually an inspirational and interactive learning experience, the RHS plans include creating two additional teaching rooms, and a new exhibition space and event facility. More space is planned to enable specialist nurseries to promote British grown, rare and unusual plants with additional room to enjoy the most extensive range of horticultural books on sale for gardeners in the UK. A new restaurant will be added and RHS Wisley’s entrance will be transformed to uplift the sense of arrival that befits a garden of such international importance.

Horticultural Science
The Society plans to build a new premier scientific research centre for the benefit of all gardeners and the environment. With the Government and universities cutting back on research expenditure, there is an urgent need to make this investment and it will put the RHS at the forefront of gardening science.

RHS Urban Garden
The RHS plans to create its first inner city garden as an oasis of green for local residents, offering educational initiatives, including school visits, workshops and inspirational gardening courses. Working with local schools and community groups the garden would offer hands on learning experiences, including learning how to Grow Your Own food. A wide variety of locations and opportunities will be explored in the search for this garden.

The RHS mission has always been to inspire and support as many people as possible to garden, so it is vital the charity uses some of the funds raised to invest more broadly across the UK. The RHS has already started this initiative and has teams set up in Yorkshire and Edinburgh working across all forms of community gardening with RHS Britain in Bloom and in partnership with local gardening clubs and schools involved with RHS Campaign for School Gardening. £100,000 Community Gardening Funds have already been launched in both regions.

RHS Online
The RHS is investing in its online presence to provide a more engaging, interactive free-to-access website with a wealth of ideas and expertise, which would be the first port of call for all levels of gardeners, wherever they are in the world. The site would include enhanced film content and new online tools and apps aimed at helping gardeners and providing a voice for them.

RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex
The plan is to dramatically increase spectacular horticultural content at RHS Hyde Hall, including creating acres of perennial meadows and a beautiful new Mediterranean edible garden, featuring olives, lavender and grapevines. A new Learning Centre would also be created for children and adults to develop their gardening skills, meaning all four RHS gardens would then have significant education facilities.

The RHS is investing in a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, which will revolutionise the way the Society understands and connects with its customers and members.

The RHS will implement new Interpretation to reflect the qualities of the RHS and each Garden. It will create innovative and fresh signage that will help visitors navigate around the gardens and learn more about RHS work.

Awareness of the RHS
Once all the investment projects are underway, the RHS will undertake a major Brand Campaign to highlight its far reaching charitable work.

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 200 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262


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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262