Shipping group Irish Continental’s losses narrowed in 2021 as pandemic restrictions eased and new freight routes were added, allowing it to restart paying dividends.
revenue increased by €57.4 million last year, an increase of 20.7% over 2020 levels to €334.5.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), before non-trading items, increased by €10.2m (24.2pc) to €52.3m.
Earnings before tax and interest (EBIT), before non-trading items, showed a loss of €0.2m, compared to a profit of €0.8m in 2020.
Despite rising costs, the group’s pre-tax losses fell to 4.1 million euros in 2021, compared to a loss of 18 million euros recorded in 2020, the group said in its preliminary 2021 results, published today. today.
Net debt increased by 60.7 pc to €142.2 million due to strategic investments of €41.7 million and share buybacks of €19.8 million.
The group has available liquidity, made up of cash and confirmed bank facilities, of €118.9 million as of December 31, 2021.
The Irish Continental board is proposing to pay a dividend of €0.09 per ordinary share in July, or €16.5 million.
An easing of travel restrictions and the new Dover-Calais service led to an increase in revenue for the ferry division, although rising fuel prices and increased activity drove up costs.
The ferry division’s turnover increased by 24.1% compared to 2020, to €175.5 million, with a slight increase in EBITDA to €23.2 million in 2021, compared to €22.3 million. EBIT including non-trading items showed a loss of €17.4 million, an increase from the loss of €12.3 million in 2020.
Volumes increased on car and passenger routes, but fell on roll-on-roll freight routes – although this was offset by higher average yields on freight.
Containers and terminals division revenue increased by 18.8% to €174 million, while EBITDA increased by 47% to €29.1 million due to volume growth . EBIT, including non-trading items, increased by 31.3 pc to €17.2m.
Irish Continental group chairman John B McGuckian said last year had been “another difficult year” for the group, but said the new Dover-Calais route marked “significant progress”.
“It is a long-term objective for the Group to expand on this route and its launch in 2021 is all the more impressive given the current difficulties in our market caused by the travel restrictions linked to the pandemic.”
However, the statement expressed concern about a ‘distortion’ of trade due to Brexit, with a ‘lack of implementation of appropriate checks on goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Britain’.
“To the extent that the goods are destined for the Republic of Ireland, this leads to a distortion of the level playing field, as goods arriving directly at ports in the Republic of Ireland from Great Britain are checked at arrival,” the statement read.