Belfast Harbour’s Annual Report for 2015 has been published revealing a record financial performance.
Turnover at the Harbour, which handles 70% of Northern Ireland’s seaborne trade and 20% of the entire island’s, rose by 3.4% to £54.3m. Operating Profit also increased by 3.4% to stand at £28.7m. Profits before Tax rose 2.3% to £29.9m.
The report also contained details of infrastructure projects completed during the financial year totaling £18 million – up almost 40% on the previous year – and new projects totaling £100 million which are either underway or due to commence within the next six months.
Commenting on the results Dr. David Dobbin, Belfast Harbour’s Chairman said:
“This has been an excellent trading year for Belfast Harbour with 23 million tonnes of cargo being handled by the Port during 2015. We’re also pleased to report on the completion and progress of a number of ambitious investments which are driving the ongoing regeneration of Belfast Harbour Estate. Our role is to continue to manage, maintain and develop the resources of the Harbour, and optimize outcomes for our customers and the wider regional economy. All of our earnings are re-invested in projects such as improved container and quayside handling facilities, dockside cranes or the award-winning City Quays Grade ‘A’ office development. Work is also well underway on our new film studios and we hope to announce a contractor and brand operator for a new hotel at City Quays within the coming weeks. These investments are resulting in new jobs and improved regional competitiveness. Belfast Harbour is committed to helping the Northern Ireland economy grow and prosper.”
2015 was the second busiest year on record for imports and exports through Belfast Harbour, reflecting its long-term policy of developing best-in-class marine facilities. This included the purchase and order of two modern pilot boats, improved Roll-On / Roll-Off handling facilities and improved bulk storage capacity for customers operating in the salt and fertiliser sectors.
Property developments progressed by Belfast Harbour included the completion of City Quays 1 (now fully let to high calibre international occupiers), the commencement of work on its 124,000 sq ft sister office, the securing of planning for a four-star hotel at City Quays and the start of work this year on a new 130,000 sq ft film studio.
Dr. Dobbin added:
“The landscape of Belfast Harbour is being transformed as new marine and real estate developments come to fruition. With £100 million committed to projects which are already underway, or are in the process of securing planning such as the proposed new cruise berth, we are laying the foundations for how Belfast Harbour will look and feel for the 21st Century. Trade in the first quarter of 2016 has already shown encouraging signs of growth, building upon the success of our customers and the outward looking ethos of Northern Ireland’s private sector. Our expectation is that such growth will enable the Harbour to continue to support and self-fund its ambitious investment programme, creating much needed quality jobs.”
The report highlighted continued growth in Belfast’s main routes to Scotland and England with the Belfast – Liverpool Stena service recording the strongest performance with a 4% increase.
Preparatory work on a new coal processing plant also continued and the Harbour provided leases to Titanic Foundation Ltd to facilitate the restoration and conversion of the former Harland & Wolff headquarters building in Titanic Quarter into a boutique hotel.