Sunday, 14 December 2014

Highland Titles Conservation - How Much Income Actually Goes Towards Conservation Work?

Highland Titles proudly tout themselves as a "Conservation Company". From their advertising, press reviews and interviews etc., one obtains the clear impression that conservation is their raison d’etre, that it’s the reason the company was set up. The conservation aspect is what customers are buying into. But from the figures, you would be justified in wondering if it is principally a hook, and the true purpose of the exercise is making the tax-exile owners very wealthy!

Highland Titles are notoriously secretive and wholly unaccountable when it comes to publishing actual figures in relation to their income and actual spending on conservation work. Genuine UK conservation charities, by contrast, are required to make full accounts publicly available.

Now, thanks to Stephen Rossiter the Highland Titles sales and marketing director, and public publication of sales figures for their affiliate program, we can work the figures out for ourselves and see a very reasonable estimate of what those figures actually are,

In a recent radio interview with Huffington Post, apart from the utter garbage spouted by Mr Rossiter about Laird, Lord, and Lady titles, he does state quite clearly, 4:13 "over the last 2 years, we would have raised in excess of $250,000." 

That's in  Dollars, translated to Pounds that comes to around £80,000 raised per year over the last two years, excellent we now have something to work with. All we need now are the total sales per year and how much income on average each sale is worth. Fortunately, tucked away in a corner of the Internet unlikely to be found by consumers, we can find these figures from the Highland Titles affiliate program, neat! - I think it likely that shortly after publication of this post, this page will either disappear or the figures will be changed. If you are a bona fide journalist, lawyer, or government agency etc. I can provide a verified accurate copy of this page which cannot have been tampered with. (Yes the program information and traffic figures have now been removed from the affiliate page 22/12/2014

Program Information
Average Order Value  -  £64.36
Commission  -  15%
Avg. Conversion Rate - 2.95%

Over 90k Monthly Unique Visitors
Over 250k Monthly Pageviews

To get a pretty good picture of the actual number of sales all we need do is multiply the Monthly Unique Visitors by the conversion rate.

90,000 monthly unique visitors * 2.95% conversion rate = 31,860 sales per year.

Multiply the sales per year by the Average Order Value, 31,860 * £64.36 and we get a total of £2,050509, that's over 2 million Pounds, or for our USA friends, around  $3,219,300, well over 3 million Dollars gross income per year.

So over a two year period, Highland Titles' gross income is around £4,101019, yes that is over 4 million pounds, of which around £160,000 is collected for conservation projects. So out of the gross income, only around 3.9 percent is collected for conservation purposes.

Can these figures be relied upon to be accurate? Oh yes definitely, they come out of the mouth of Stephen Rossiter the Highland Titles sales and marketing director during a radio interview, and from their own publicly published affiliate program data.

What does this mean? What it means is that your £30 purchase from Highland Titles, only results in around a rather miserly £1 being collected for conservation projects.

Put it this way, would you donate £30 to a charity if you were aware that only around £1 of that amount was actually going to be spent on the cause, with the remaining £29 going towards overheads and salaries?

Richer Sounds currently give 15% of their profits to charitable organisations, do they call themselves a "charitable cause company"? Of course not! Highland Titles on the other hand, collect a tiny amount of their income for conservation projects yet call themselves a  "conservation company". As with many claims made by Highland Titles, when looked at closely, the claims are more marketing hype than anything based on reality. By far the biggest slice of income generated on the back of the famous Glencoe name, where their land isn’t, goes to the tax free haven Channel Islands, and very firmly stays there.

There is another concern, what do Highland Titles class as conservation work? We know they spent money on a track to extract the wood from the commercial forestry operation (while claiming it was a cycle track!). We know they have built a visitor reception hut, a car park, an ornamental stone bench, and some paths for the comfort of visitor. The natural world has little use for any of those, for my money those are more for the comfort of visitors and advertising hype, rather than spending on conservation.

Equally, if they spend £100,000 acquiring land planted with commercial timber to “salvage” the land, is that chalked up as £100,000 of conservation spending given that the price paid mainly reflects the value of the timber (such land is of very little value apart from the timber), and they will recoup the outlay when the timber is felled? Other people buy these plantations as investments!

Going by their own figures, for every £30 purchase made from Highland Titles, it seems only around £1 is actually collected for conservation.

Is that really what you expected from a company whose proclaimed reason for existing at all is for conservation?

For comparison, here are some figures for UK registered charities who's accounts, unlike the hidden accounts of Highland Titles, are available for public scrutiny.

Figures taken on 20/12/2014

Small Woods Association - 75% charitable spend, so of your £30, £22.50 is spent on the cause.

THE Whitley Fund For Nature - 82% charitable spend, so of your £30, £24.60 is spent on the cause.

The Woodland Trust - 65% charitable spend, so of your £30, £19.50 is spent on the cause.

Plantlife International - 84% charitable spend, so of your £30, £25.20 is spent on the cause.

1 comment:

  1. Dude ... you are effin marvelous! :D