The Highlanders have logged a financial turnaround of
$300,000 enabling them to announce a small profit yesterday.
They reported a profit of $71,000 for the financial year
ended August 31, 2012, but it does not appear to have brought
the franchise any closer to finding a private partner.
The Highlanders turning a profit looked a forlorn hope a few
years ago, with the team in the gloom both on and off the
But they have gone into the black thanks to a new stadium and
better performances on the field.
Highlanders chairman Ross Laidlaw said the result was a very
positive outcome for the franchise.
''The separation from the Otago Rugby Football Union in 2010,
and the work done over the past two years by the board,
staff, management and players has been significant and this
positive result was expected. We are now on track to deliver
under our independent business model,'' he said.
The profit was made through increasing income and keeping a
tight lid on expenses, Laidlaw said.
The franchise averaged just under 17,000 for home games at
its first year at Forsyth Barr Stadium and there was
increased support from the business community.
''One of the significant factors is the new stadium. And
having a winning team undoubtedly helps.''
The Highlanders missed the playoffs last season but were in
contention the whole season.
Laidlaw said a small profit had been forecast. The Crusaders
had posted a similar profit of $87,147 for the same period.
Laidlaw said the profit represented a turnaround of about
$300,000 from the previous year.
He declined to say what the budgeted profit was for next
The board was confident the profit and the turnaround of the
franchise signalled the beginning of a bright future for the
''There is still a good deal of hard work required. However,
we believe the Highlanders have a sustainable business model
based out of Forsyth Barr Stadium.''
Although the profit is not massive, franchises have the big
pay days when they make the playoffs and get to share in the
The Highlanders did not make the top six so did not have the
benefit of getting any bonus cash.
But any profit must be pleasing as it looked unattainable a
few years back. The New Zealand Rugby Union was forced to
underwrite the franchise in 2009 for the following two years
as its expenses outweighed its revenue.
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said
earlier this year it had pumped about $1 million into the
franchise in those years.
Playing at a rundown Carisbrook with a losing record had not
been great for the balance sheet.
Despite the improved financial performance, the Highlanders
are unlikely to go anywhere near private investment.
The Highlanders were not part of the process to seek private
ownership of Super 15 franchises. The Hurricanes and
Crusaders have both awarded licences to private partners in
Laidlaw said, although he could not speak for the NZRU, the
Highlanders franchise was never a candidate for going into
the privatisation process, and nothing had changed.