Port of Liverpool owner Peel Ports reports a 22.4% rise in annual revenues to £617.8m as freight tonnage increases but sees pre-tax profits fall. Tony McDonough reports
Peel Ports handled 67.7m tonnes of freight at its UK ports in the year to March 31, 2022, and saw revenues rise 22.4% to £617.8m.
However, in a year when it also committed almost £123m to capital expenditure, the group saw pre-tax profits fall significantly from £114.3m to £66.6m, according to accounts filed at Companies House.
A significant chunk of that capital expenditure was invested in further expansion of the Liverpool2 deep water container terminal. The facility, which opened in 2016 at a cost of £400m. A further £140m has been spent on upgrades including extra cranes.
Peel Ports Group operates ports in Liverpool, Heysham, Medway, Clydeport and Great Yarmouth, as well as the Manchester Ship Canal, where it offers bulk solid cargo handling at Runcorn and Ellesmere Port.
It also operates a container terminal in Dublin and owns BG Freight Line, which provides short sea container services between the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe and Peel Ports Logistics, one of the UK’s leading shipping and freight forwarders.
During the accounting period the company raised £95m through a private placement loan with a 12-year maturity, and £40m from a new institutional loan, with a maturity of 15 years. It also raised £350m in the US private bond market. A final dividend of £54.5m was declared.
In November 2022 Peel Ports reached a settlement with union leaders in a bitter pay dispute at the Port of Liverpool that saw almost 600 workers stage multiple walkouts.
Workers first walked out for two weeks on September 19. This was followed by a one-week strike which ended on October 17 and then a third walkout, this time for two weeks, starting in late October.
Referring to the capital investment during the accounting period, Peel Ports said in the annual report: “This included further investment into Liverpool to to increase the terminals capacity and construction of new warehouses.”
The directors added: “strong results for the year, demonstrate the group’s ability to continue to respond with agility to risks and opportunities in challenging markets.”