Sark Newspaper 12 April 2019

11 stated targets. In its entirety, this document serves as a road map that provides direction to the business .” “ A business plan is all conceptual until you start fill- ing in the numbers and terms. The sections about your marketing plan and strategy are interesting to read, but they don't mean a thing if you can't justify your business with good figures on the bottom line. You do this in a distinct section of your business plan for financial forecasts and statements. The financial section of a business plan is one of the most essential components of the plan, as you will need it if you have any hope of winning over investors or obtaining a bank loan. Even if you don't need financing, you should compile a financial forecast in order to simply be successful in steering your business.” There are no financial projections in the IoSS ‘business plan’. It contains section after section reas- suring the reader that the company intends to im- prove safety, comply with the MOU it has with Chief Pleas, focus on its customers’ needs, “ meet key finan- cial targets in order to be self supporting with profits to re-invest ” and to communicate with staff. We should darn well hope so. In fact, these are all areas in which the late Managing Director Paul Gar- lick reported the serious concerns that resulted in his sacking and, according to his family, contributed greatly to his untimely death shortly afterwards. This ‘business plan’ is no such thing, it is corporate waffle which insults the reader’s intelligence - a box- ticking exercise similar to Chief Pleas’ now aban- doned policy to ‘Secure Sark’s Future’ and, just like that policy, there are no financial projections - no figures at all - to show the tax-paying public how the company can afford to achieve it. £1.8 MILLION? To make matters worse yet, there is an addendum to the ‘business plan’ entitled “ Fleet Replacement ”: “ In 2018, due to significant issues with the existing passenger vessels, limited operational service life ex- pectancy and increasing maintenance costs the Execu- tive Directors and Senior Managers produced a busi- ness case with the objective of replacing two of the cur- rent passenger fleet of three passenger vessels with a modern, larger capacity and faster passenger ferry ei- ther by purchasing a vessel or by a bespoke build .” This, according to the ‘business plan’, is a priority for the IoSS, full details of which “ are contained with- in the business case ”. This business case is not in the public domain and we can therefore safely assume it is to be kept secret from those who ultimately carry the burden of financing it, namely the taxpayers of Sark. To underline the IoSS board and management’s complete disconnect with reality on the ground on this Island, the “ Vessel Replacement ” section of the ‘business plan’ concludes with this ‘corporate-speak’ which is utterly inane: “ The vessel replacement goals align with this business plan. The objectives, strategy and benchmarks for the project are contained with the [secret] business case and [secret] supporting documents .” It is not The Isle of Sark Shipping’s money the com- pany is playing with but funds supplied by the tax and fare-paying public who has no choice but to un- derwrite whatever debts the company incurs. If we can’t afford a new, purpose-built boat, and the financial statements strongly indicate that this is the case, then we can’t have a new boat. The IoSS, like the taxpayers who support the company, must learn to live within its means. There will be no shortage of suitable second-hand vessels around Europe which can be bought, or leased, at a tiny fraction of the cost of a ‘trophy asset’ new boat. The Sark Belle is a point in case. She cost £34,500 when she was acquired second-hand and in the past two years it has cost the IoSS £71,002 in repairs and maintenance to keep her in service. Nevertheless, this ship was valued at £150,000 - £170,000 by inde- pendent assessors in 2016. Pound for pound the Belle has been shown to deliver the best return out of all the vessels in the IoSS fleet during her time in the company’s ownership. For once we are up. With the Bon Marin being withdrawn from service at the end of this summer season, the case for a re- placement vessel is clear. However the last thing that the IoSS and the people of Sark need is an expensive vanity project like the Sark Viking. Neither the com- pany nor its ultimate owners, the people of Sark, can afford it. £29,050 On a positive note, The Sark Newspaper is pleased to learn that the IoSS has settled the unfair dismissal case with the late Paul Garlick’s estate by paying out £29,050. It goes some way to clear the name of a man whose deep concerns about the company’s cul- ture were proven to be well founded indeed, but as a result of blowing the whistle, was wrongfully sacked, humiliated and hung out to dry by his employer, Chief Pleas. THE WAY FORWARD The parallels between the financial state of the IoSS and its owner, the Island of Sark, are obvious. Both suffer economically, unable to turn a profit and pay their way, let alone flourish, because of a lack of trade. For the IoSS as well as the Island of Sark, continued dependence on the stagnant Guernsey market can only lead to further decline. Opening up to new markets is the only way forward.