Peel Ports Group, the second-largest ports business in the UK, has reported a spike in turnover to more than £620m in the year after upping its stake in Birkenhead ship repairer Cammell Laird.
The company, which is developing the £300m Liverpool2 deep water terminal, also posted a rise in operating profit despite higher administrative expenses stemming from the restructure of its pension scheme and increased interest repayments.
Peel Ports operates the Port of Liverpool and the Manchester Ship Canal in addition to ports and terminals in Glasgow, Belfast and Sheerness. Two years ago it upped its stake in Cammell Laird to 75 per cent.
In the 12 months to 31 March 2014, accounts for Peel Ports Group Ltd show the business recorded a turnover of £623.7m, up from £501.9m the previous year. Total operating profit grew from £104.5m to £106.4m for the same periods.
Turnover from its marine support services division, which includes Cammell Laird, rose from £116.6m to £221.4m.
Chief financial officer Graeme Charnock said:
"The group again performed well during 2013/14 which has allowed us to report another set of solid results. We're pleased that Peel Ports has continued to deliver a positive performance while making a huge investment in our future growth.
"While throughput tonnage was broadly the same we experienced some weakness in the petrochemical market. Despite that we have maintained our overall market share of the UK ports market while increasing market share in sectors that we are focused on growing."
Peel Ports' investment in Liverpool2, which is being part ﬁnanced by a £150m secured from the European Investment Bank and a Regional Growth Fund grant of £35m, is designed to capitalise on the widening of the Panama Canal and the potential for round the world trade routes that this might bring.
By deepening the approach channel of the River Mersey to 16 metres, it will allow access for post-Panamax size container ships as well as widening the tidal access window for a range of other river users.
The company said the scheme, which could create 5,000 jobs in the North West, would offer "signiﬁcant advantages" to both shipping lines and importers. It is estimated that 35 million consumers live within 150 miles of the Port of Liverpool.
Overall, Peel Ports invested £90.8m across its ports in the 2013/14 financial year.
In separately filed accounts, The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, a subsidiary of Peel Ports, posted a turnover of £147.1m for the year to 31 March 2014, up from £130.3m in 2013.
Source: Insider Media