Celebrations as First 10 Years Bode Well for The Next 500

by Chris Fairbairn

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

The commercial arm of an august Edinburgh institution is celebrating a highly successful first decade.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) 10th anniversary

FORMED following the 500th anniversary of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd), the College’s Commercial Enterprises was launched in 2006.


It was tasked with making the most of the institution’s impressive buildings, with all the profits being invested back into running the College, which delivers life-changing skills to every corner of the world.


Now Commercial Enterprises – which started out as just three people – is marking its own landmark anniversary, having grown into an impressive 90-strong team generating annual revenues of £4.5million.


The College celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2005 with the creation of its Quincentenary Building, a modern purpose-built conference centre, with break-out rooms and a sprung dance floor – adding to its portfolio of event-friendly buildings.


Neil Hamilton, Business Development Manager and a founding member of the original team, believes the work of Commercial Enterprises will help further the aims of the College for centuries to come.


He said: “There can’t be many organisations founded with a distinct vision for the next 500 years – and if the first 10 are anything to go by we are well on track to deliver our ultimate goal.


“During the first discussions more than ten years ago, we were tasked with making the best possible use of the many impressive buildings owned by the College.


“Given the rooms and spaces at our disposal it was a real opportunity, but the challenge was that we had to deliver quickly in order to support the important work of the college.”


As well as providing a boost to the local jobs market, Commercial Enterprises achieved a record turnover of £4.25 million in the most recent financial year – a 20% increase on the previous year – with all profits going back into training surgeons and advancing the work of the college.


Neil added: “We really are quite unlike anything else out there and it is a privilege to be involved in it all, knowing that our work is going towards such a vital cause.”


Closely following the launch of Commercial Enterprises was the transformation of the College residencies into the 77 room Ten Hill Place hotel in 2006. The success of the hotel culminated in takings of £2.69m last year, achieved thanks to an impressive 88 per cent occupancy rate, with discussions ongoing regarding a significant expansion.


Further success has been achieved providing venues for conferences – with commercial use of the College’s many desirable spaces a key aim when the enterprise was founded.


Demand is now high all year round, with catering provided by a unique partnership with Heritage Portfolio – which extends to the venues’ award-winning Café 1505, as well as No.10 Restaurant and 10 Wine Bar located within the hotel.


Since 2009 the venue has worked in partnership with Fringe promoter Space UK – enjoying year on year growth, becoming a mainstay of the Festival. In more recent years, further use of the venues as setting for weddings and an expansion of its Christmas party offering have provided extra income streams.


Moira Walker, Marketing Manager and a fellow founding member of the team, said: “It is amazing just how busy we now are, considering that we started – effectively from scratch – just ten years ago.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) 10th anniversary photo

“The great thing here is the ambition. Not one year has passed with us sitting still and we have achieved a staggering amount over the past ten years – all driven by the charitable aims at the heart of everything we do.”


The College is best known for its magnificent Playfair Building, dating back to 1832. Other venues include the King Khalid Building, formerly St Michael’s Church, which has been transformed into an outstanding 158-seated auditorium.


The stunning Prince Phillip building opened in 2015 following the transformation of a former Edinburgh University language school. It was welcomed by Marketing Edinburgh, which promotes the city across the UK and internationally.


The Royal College is one of the most august institutions in Scotland. It provides education and assessment for medical students, surgical trainees and consultants and supports research to advance standards of care for the future. Surgeons trained and assessed through the College take their life-saving and life-changing skills all over the world.


The College’s Commercial Enterprises promotes, sells and manages all commercial activities held within the College Campus, which includes arts and conferencing venue Surgeons’ Hall. All profits support the charitable aims of the College which are education, assessment and advancement in surgery.


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Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is an Account Director with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood PR. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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