The bit I got wrong on the Oxfam accounts

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So in 2015 the trading arm had a reported turnover of £14.46 million, which after all costs were accounted for left a profit of £0.78 million (i.e. 5.4% of takings) which was then transferred to Oxfam the charity.

The reported turnover includes £149,000 ‘commission on the sale of agency goods’ (i.e. ‘tag my bag’).

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Based on a 3% commission including VAT this means that an additional £5.96 million  is also taken in through the shop tills, officially as payments to individual sellers of goods, which are then remitted  (minus the commission) directly to Oxfam as cash donations on their behalf, attracting a further £1.45 million of Gift Aid.

I have had a go at reconstructing the accounts for Oxfam’s real retail operations (i.e. money coming in through the till) which I think look like this:

Total turnover                                                 20,273 (direct and ‘agency sales’)

Cost of sales                                                      (5,495)

Distribution costs                                            (3,110)

Administrative expenses                               (5,028)

Interest                                                                 (46)

Total costs                                                           (13,679)

Profit    (on direct sales and ‘donations’)  5,594

Distributed directly to Oxfam                           783

‘Donations by sellers’                                         5,811

Associated gift aid                                                1,452

This analysis shows how important the ‘tag your bag’ scheme is to Oxfam’s retail business (nearly a third of shop trade), and what a difference it makes to the profitability of the business –adding around 25% to underlying profits.


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