Edinburgh public relations scores for Surgeon's Hall newestmember

by Stuart Milne

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

A SEASONED hospitality expert has joined the commercial arm of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, with the aim of steering the venerable institution to further record performance.Neil Johnston

Neil Johnston has been appointed Financial Controller of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Commercial Enterprises, joining from a similar role with Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld.

Now the father-of-three will strive to build on the record revenues recently announced by Surgeons’ Hall, which achieved turnover of £4.25 million in its latest financial year, up 20% on the previous period.

Neil, a graduate of Dundee University who originally hails from Antrim in Northern Ireland, has enjoyed a 20-year career which has seen him work with hotel giants such as Hilton and Radisson.

He said: “Edinburgh is a fantastic place to be able to work and Surgeons’ Hall plays an important part in this beautiful city. With new spaces opening and expanding the venue’s capabilities, it is no surprise that we are going from strength to strength.

“I’m looking forward to making the move towards a more events centred business and can’t wait to enjoy the wealth of events on in Edinburgh throughout the year from the Festival Fringe to Hogmanay.

“Surgeons’ Hall has proved that it is able to provide high quality events and entertainment with the revenues to match. I want to maintain this growth by implementing and improving structures within the business, and hopefully revenues and profit will follow.”

His new role is pivotal within the dedicated Commercial Enterprise team, established a decade ago to manage commercial activities held within the College Campus. All profits supporting the College’s charitable aims in education, assessment and advancement in surgery.

The team promotes, sells and manages conferences, corporate events, weddings and other events across the College’s buildings, which include the modern Quincentenary Conference Centre, created to celebrate the institution’s 500th anniversary and the four-star, 77-bedroom hotel, Ten Hill Place.

Scott Mitchell, Commercial Director at Surgeon’s Hall, said he was delighted to have attracted such a highly-respected financial controller to help build on recent success.

He added: “Neil has a wealth of experience delivering success for some of Scotland’s most sought after hotels. We knew he would be a perfect fit for Surgeons’ Hall and are delighted to have him working with us.

“Not only do we have our own hotel, but conferencing makes up a major part of our business. We are confident Neil will really bring his expertise to bear in developing these areas.

“The role of financial controller is vital to our operation and I look forward to working with Neil to ensure this historic venue will thrive for years to come.”

In recent years £20m has been spent on upgrading and extending the facilities on offer.

This has strengthened the College’s year-round events and conference offering.  2015 saw it cater for in excess of 500 events, including its biggest ever medical conference. Also in 2015 was the opening of Café 1505 which serves both visitors to the refurbished Surgeons’ Hall museum and also caters for significant passing sit-in and takeaway business in the city’s south side.

Surgeons’ Hall has also flourished as a Festival-Fringe venue and last August saw seven theatres play host to 80,000 customers, while also delivering significant food and beverage sales.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is one of the world’s oldest medical institutions founded in 1505 after receiving a Royal Seal of Cause from King James IV. All proceeds made by Commercial Enterprises support the charitable aims of the College which are education, assessment and advancement in surgery. Learn more about applications to this University.

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