Shannon-Foynes Port Company clocks up another good year in 2011

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

PROFITS are up, costs have gone down and the level of business has again increased at Shannon Foynes Port Company which has just posted its results for 2011.

PROFITS are up, costs have gone down and the level of business has again increased at Shannon Foynes Port Company which has just posted its results for 2011.

The results, according to company chairman Michael Collins, copperfasten another strong trading year for the company despite the challenging economic climate.

However, the company’s chief executive officer, Pat Keating warned that while there are substantial opportunities for economic development in the Shannon estuary, there are “significant threats” to realising these.

“One of the more immediate threats is the recent designation of the lower estuary as a proposed SPA (Special Protection Area),” Mr Keating said.

“The Shannon Estuary has the potential to be a future economic catalyst for the Mid-West region and its potential economic advantages should not be unnecessarily alienated in any way,” he said.

Meanwhile, he revealed that the consultation phase for the company’s new master plan has now been completed and he expects to unveil Masterplan Vision 2041, later this autumn.

That plan, Mr Keating said will focus on the growth and expansion of Limerick and Foynes ports as well as developing further its deep water facilities.

It will also examine alternative commercial uses for the company’s non-core assets, i.e. land and buildings not required for future port operations and the plan will also set out the case for upgrading access to the ports. The plan would involve the company in significant capital investment, Mr Keating predicted.

The good 2011 performance, the new chairman, Michael Collins said, “confirms the steady progress achieved at Shannon Foynes Port Company over recent years”.

And he cited the example of a 180% increase in margins when compared to 2007. “This is a reason for confidence for the future,” Mr Collins said. The key figures for 2011 show a record operating profit of almost €2.9m, up by 13% over 2010. This was achieved on the back of an 8% increase in cargo throughput to 10.1 million tonnes and follows a 23.5% increase in throughput in 2010.

Shannon Foynes is Ireland’s largest bulk cargo port company and turnover for the company also increased in 2011 and now stands at €10.1m.

A big contributor to the company’s good performance was the continuing decrease in costs with costs now down by 35% since 2007.

In the same five-year period, the company has also succeeded in reducing its debt by almost €2m while investing over €4m. The debt now stands at €14.5m.

CEO Pat Keating commented: “The Company’s improvement in tonnages and financial performance is all the more noteworthy considering the prevailing economic conditions and credit restrictions on the investment sector, which continue to impact on the break bulk and dry bulk trades for the construction sector.”

“While the Company is reporting record bottom line profits, it is faced with substantial obligations in terms of pension liabilities, debt servicing requirements, its capital investment program and more onerous requirement from its shareholder in the form of increased dividend payments,” Mr Keating continued, adding that the upward trend in profits needed to be maintained.