Belfast Harbour has seen an increase of 7% in pre-tax profits, rising to £35.8m. It is believed Brexit will see the “greatest change” to trading relationships in over 40 years.
The port and property developer, which deals with over two thirds of Northern Ireland’s sea trade, witnessed a turnover rise – an increase of 7% to £58.1m for the year ending December 2016.
During its yearly report, the harbour believed the growth was due to greater trade levels throughout the port along with a boost in property income.
Over 23 million tonnes made its way through the harbour last year, an increase of approximately 1%.
The number of ferry passengers also rose in 2016 to 1.5 million, an increase of 9%. This is the highest level since 2004.
The harbour states it also invested £42 million in the last year. This is an increase from £18 million a year earlier.
Overall tonnage in the ‘dry bulk’ area, decreased to 6.5 million tonnes, a fall of 1.5%. While the ‘dry bulk’ sector includes things like grain, it is believed there was substantial trading in areas such as cement and coal.
2016 seen a record number of cruise ships enter the harbour with 82 ships welcoming 145,000 passengers to the city.
Work on the second City Quays building is due to finish this year while City Quay 3, the largest of the office developments so far, may be completed by the conclusion on 2019.
Plans for the £46 million building were submitted by the harbour earlier this year. This building will potentially house 3,000 workers over 16 stories. This construction is predicted to bring new jobs for up to 600 builders.
The Belfast Harbour chairman, David Dobbin, states that it has been “another highly successful year.”
“Every penny of our net profit is reinvested in the development of the harbour’s port and property activities, supporting businesses throughout Northern Ireland,” he added.
“As is the case in the port sector the scale of these benefits to the wider economy is considerably in excess of the direct economic benefit to Belfast Harbour itself.”
Another major development this year included the completion of new film studios. This location is set to become Superman’s home planet of Krypton as a new television show is believed to be filming in these studios.
Over the past 20 years, the harbour has invested more than £400 million to the estate. It is also believed, as of December 2015, its “liquid funds” was £60.4 million, “all of which is committed to future projects.” These future projects includes the development of City Quays, and new high capacity cranes,
“Total capital expenditure during 2016 was £41.7m and in addition, a further £105m has been committed at the 2016 year-end to strategically significant projects”, the harbour said.
Mr Dobbin states: “Belfast Harbour has an ambitious investment pipeline which will continue to drive our business and enhance the capacity of Northern Ireland’s economy, creating jobs and maintaining Belfast Harbour as the region’s most important access point to the global marketplace.”