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Harland and Wolff in the black after posting pre-tax profits of £8.7m


Harland & Wolff’s sales and marketing manager David McVeigh

Harland & Wolff’s sales and marketing manager David McVeigh

Harland & Wolff’s sales and marketing manager David McVeigh

Harland & Wolff has returned to the black after posting pre-tax profits of £8.7m following huge losses just a year earlier.

And the shipyard clawed back its profits by opening up business across a range of areas after its more than £4m losses in 2013, Harland & Wolff has said.

Turnover for the year ending December 2014 shot up to £55m - a 70% rise on the same period in 2013, when it stood at £32m.

Harland & Wolff's sales and marketing manager David McVeighsaid the increase was down to "continual investment" in the firm, and moving on from the huge loss it suffered in 2013.

And after more than 150 years since it was first formed, Harland & Wolff said in its latest set of accounts, it had diversified its business across areas - such as ship repair, offshore energy and other heavy engineering - to ensure "that we are not overly reliant on any one sector".

It said while the "underlying economic climate is challenging", the company had secured a "reasonable underlying activity level" for the first half of 2015.

Two of its biggest deals in the last year have been the refit and refurbishment of Norwegian oil rig giants the Blackford Dolphin and Byford Dolphin, which both dominated the area's skyline when docked here.

But work on the Blackford Dolphin faced substantial delays, following the discovery of structural defects on the rig when it came into the world's largest dock.

The work schedule was only supposed to take 60 days but it stayed in Belfast for six months.

Meanwhile, last year the company landed a number of contracts, including the two which altered the dock landscape.

The firm said as "part of strengthening of its organisation" it boosted its workforce by 19 staff, bringing its total job numbers to 193.

But it also took on hundreds of other temporary workers to deal with several contracts.

Its total workforce - including those taken on for temporary work - rocketed to a peak of 689 people in January last year. And Harland & Wolff said it is also bidding for a number of contracts this year and 2016.

In response to the latest accounts, Harland & Wolff said: "The directors consider the results to be satisfactory and reflect the impact of the investment and organisational strengthening put in place over the past few years.

"H&W continues to invest heavily in training and facilities to meet market expectations and believe these results reinforce the company's continuously improving financial outlook achieved over the last decade and more."

It worked on a total of 27 ships and other craft during the course of the year, and continued its relationship with a host of ferry operators.

Other work also included a "substation jacket and piles" for Humber Gateway offshore wind farm and work developing and building a tidal device. The Byford Dolphin - the yard's second major oil rig refit - is still docked in Belfast.