Belfast Harbour posts record £32m profit
Harbour company plans to invest £105m to enhance its facilities in coming years
Belfast Harbour was the main private funder of the popular Titanic visitor experience in the city
Belfast Harbour grew its operating profits by 12 per cent to a record £32.2 million (€36.6m) last year, its latest annual report shows.
An increase in both cargo handled and revenue income from its property portfolio were the key factors that helped drive annual turnover up 7 per cent to £58.1 million (€66.4m) in 2016.
The harbour, which is a trading company created by statute, is 100 per cent self-funded, and encompasses 3,000 acres of land and sea around Belfast Lough. It has around 700 tenants on site, including George Best Belfast City airport, who together employ about 23,000 people.
Last year its substantially stepped up its investment programme, spending £42 million (€48m) on infrastructure projects compared to £18 million in 2015. This included the development of additional warehousing and the new Belfast Harbour Studio - where a one-hour Superman prequel TV series Kyrpton is scheduled to be shot this summer.
The harbour has pledged that its record profits performance for 2016 will be used to fund a further £105 million (€120m) worth of new investment projects.
It is currently in the process of transforming 20 acres of ex-shipping land into new commercial offices, shops, cafes, restaurants, residential spaces and a 188-bedroom hotel that will be operated by Marriott International under a franchise agreement.
Belfast Harbour’s latest annual report outlines how it handled more than 23 million tonnes of cargo, and the freight ferry sector, operated by StenaLine, enjoyed a busy 12 months with more than half a million vehicles and 1.5 million passengers passing through Belfast in 2016.
Last year also saw a record 82 cruise ships calling in Belfast, bringing with them 145,000 visitors to the city.
The end-of-year review highlights that the harbour’s decision to develop the UK’s first dedicated port facility for the offshore wind sector continues to pay off – last year both MHI Vestas and DONG Energy used the terminal to assemble some of the world’s largest wind turbines for installation in the Irish Sea.
David Dobbin, Belfast Harbour’s chairman, said its latest “successful year” reflected an improving economic backdrop and the benefits of its investment programme.
He noted that over the past five years the harbour had invested £130 million (€148.6m), and had an ambitious investment pipeline that would “continue to drive our business and enhance the capacity of Northern Ireland’s economy”.
“Every penny of our net profit is reinvested in the development of the harbour’s port and property activities, supporting businesses throughout Northern Ireland.”