Belfast Telegraph

Turnover at harbour up to £62m as it enjoys a record year

Underlying profits before taxation also grow to £34.6m during 2017

By Margaret Canning

Belfast Harbour today reports a 6.5% jump in turnover to nearly £62m, following a rise in port cargo and the success of its property development ventures.

And underlying profit before taxation had grown from £33.3m to £34.6m in what the harbour called a "record year".

There was a 3% increase in port cargo to 23.7 million tonnes during 2017.

The harbour has said an investment programme including property development had delivered 2,000 out of 10,000 planned new jobs.

It had already earned income from its City Quays offices - which will this week see the first broadcast by newest tenant, UTV. It also opened film studios at the North Foreshore.

The harbour also welcomed 94 cruise ships bringing 154,000 passengers - up from 82 with 145,000 passengers in 2016.

And the City Quays development has become the home of a new hotel, the first in Ireland from the AC Marriott brand.

Operating profit was also up 5.6% to £34m, while the harbour spent £42m on new port facilities and regeneration developments on its 2,000-acre estate.

Chairman David Dobbin said it was "a key economic driver" for Northern Ireland.

"Our trust port status allows us to reinvest all of our earnings after tax for the benefit of port users and the local economy. This ongoing investment cycle has been key to our financial success and has allowed us to support the growth in trade and passenger/visitor numbers, and the creation of quality new jobs across our estate."

He added: "We estimate our current investment programme will generate over 10,000 jobs."

Mr Dobbin said the two phases of the City Quays development had already resulted in 2,000 jobs.  It's home to firms including tech businesses Cayan and Golf Now, and support offices established by US law firm Baker McKenzie.

Belfast Harbour said other plans for future expenditure included £60m to be spent on the port's ferry and container-handling facilities, and further investment in logistics warehousing.

Back at City Quays, a 900-space multi-storey car park is being built, while phase three of the office developments, a space of around 250,000 square foot, awaits planning permission.

It's also upgrading ferry terminal facilities to back up a separate investment by Stena Line.

New cranes and other features are being added at the port's container terminal, which the Harbour said "provides global connectivity" by handling shipping services between Belfast and the hub ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp.

During the year, 5,874 ships had arrived at the port, while trade in agri-food was up 10% to 2.3 million tonnes.

Belfast Telegraph

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