Turnover at Belfast harbour hit the £50 million mark for the first time last year as the port authority celebrated its 400th anniversary its latest annual report shows.
Belfast harbour is one of 100 trust ports in the UK with no shareholders or owners and instead is an independent statutory body which re-invests all of its surplus profits.
According to its chairman Len O’Hagan 2013 was a “landmark year” for Belfast harbour which saw its operating profit grow by 42 per cent to £26.2 million. Mr O’Hagan said this strong financial position will enable the harbour to commit more than £60 million towards new investment projects.
Attract new customers
He said the organisation’s success last year showed the tangible results of its ongoing capital expenditure programme which had helped Belfast Harbour “attract new customers, services and trade” while supporting the regeneration of Belfast Harbour Estates.
The harbour’s latest annual report highlights that it handled a record 22.7 million tonnes last year.
In the dry bulk sector the harbour grew tonnage levels to 6.7 million largely based on a 156 per cent increase in coal trade.
Fertiliser imports, animal feeds and grains also grew strongly while steel and timber imports fell again for the eight year in a row. The total number of containers handled in Belfast fell slightly last year by less than 1 per cent to 122,000 units.
But in contrast the harbour reported a record year for freight vehicles with more than 466,000 passing through Belfast in 2013.
Passenger numbers using the port’s ferry services increased by 2 per cent to 1.4 million while 59 cruise shops also docked in the city carrying 105,000 passengers and crew last year.
It is Mr O’Hagan’s last year as chairman of the harbour and he said he was pleased despite the “ongoing challenges in both the UK and Irish economies” the harbour had maintained its traditions of “investing, planning and delivering” for the Northern Ireland economy.