Background Trading is, by its nature, different from the core hospice activities with specific risks and opportunities that require expert assessment. If done right, commercial activities offer great potential to maximise income, enabling investment in impactful clinical service development. The hospice’s 2020 governance review recognised that the Voluntary Income Generation Committee (covering Fundraising and Retail) did not meet our needs, our trading operations were in a need of significant transformation to address declining profits and the rapidly changing external environment post-pandemic.
Methods Following research into different governance structures across hospices, the proposal to establish a Trading Board was approved in July 2021 with clear objectives to:
Bring retail related expertise and experience at Board level.
Support innovation and development in Trading while managing risks and ensuring efficiency.
Ensure all legal and regulatory compliance requirements are met.
The Trading Board’s composition already included selected trustees and executives, but the inclusion of trading experts appointed as Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) would improve effectiveness. From the outset NEDs were expected to actively support the executive team as well as attending Board meetings. An open recruitment process resulted in the appointment of three NEDs with expertise in retail staff development, e-commerce, innovation and high street retail.
Results Since August 2021 the Trading Board has had significant impact on commercial activities:
Appropriate level of support and challenge to leadership.
Strong commercial advice especially around risk and innovation.
Robust and ambitious Trading Strategy introduced.
Right level of investment reaching beyond Trading.
Improved understanding of Trading across other sub-committees.
NEDs have also:
Delivered staff training.
Advised on ED&I and team development.
Supported review of upcycling initiative.
Supported development of e-commerce.
Conclusion The Trading Board has transformed how Trading is viewed and assessed at Board level and the introduction of NEDs has proved so successful a similar approach is being considered for other sub-committees.
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