Warrenpoint Port continues investment programme amid climate of uncertainty
Warrenpoint Port made a pre-tax profit of £853,372 last year, as Brexit continues to dominate the agenda.
Releasing its annual report yesterday after its annual general meeting on Tuesday, Warrenpoint Harbour Authority (WHA) revealed that it recorded a turnover of £6.1m in the 12 months to December 31, 2018, 5.5% up on 2017.
Pre-tax profits slipped 6% from last year's £908,406, but 2018 represented a record year for the port in terms of cargo. It handled 3.6 million tonnes last year, making it Northern Ireland's second largest commercial port. The past year saw the harbour continue to invest millions in improving infrastructure.
Harbour authority chairman Stan McIlvenny, now in the final year of his four-year tenure, said the slip in profits was mainly the result of the increased spending in dredging and additional staff recruited during 2018. "As WHA is a trust port, profits are invested in improving the port environs and equipment replacement for the specific benefit of customers," he said.
"During the year WHA invested £3.16m in the purchase of a new crane, refurbishment of other cranes, new loading shovels, forklift trucks, IT computer infrastructure and improvement of operational areas."
He said it had brought the total investment over the last decade to £22.6m.
However, the spectre of Brexit continues to cast a shadow over the shipping and haulage industry.
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"I did not think that in writing this report I would be commenting on the fact Brexit uncertainty remains and is a continuing drag on our customers' business investment decisions and that we are still without Government on whom so much depends regarding the democratic decision making process," said Mr McIlvenny.
"I hope from a local business perspective that both matters are resolved soon."
The WHA report revealed that considerable time and effort during 2018 was spent on Brexit, specifically on the potential for a no-deal outcome. In her final report as chief executive, Claire Guinness, who will soon be succeeded by David Holmes, said: "The outcome of Brexit remains a source of continued uncertainty and the members have considered this risk along with the risk of normal business activity in preparation of the financial statements on a going concern basis."