Tuesday 6 December 2016

Operating profits at Swiss crane firm's Irish unit double to €17m

Published 13/10/2016 | 02:30

Container cranes made in Killarney by Liebherr are used in more than 100 ports around the world. Photo: Bloomberg
Container cranes made in Killarney by Liebherr are used in more than 100 ports around the world. Photo: Bloomberg

Revenue and profits at the Kerry-based arm of Swiss crane manufacturer Leibherr soared last year, with demand prompting the division to boost its workforce to more than 800.

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Sales at the Irish unit jumped 27pc to €325m, while operating profits almost doubled to €17m.

Container cranes made in Killarney by Liebherr are used in more than 100 ports around the world.

But despite the surge in operating profits, the unit's bottom line declined, with pre-tax profits falling from €6.6m to €3.8m.

That fall was due to losses on foreign exchange movements during the year. Liebherr noted that its business strategy is strongly influenced by price developments of steel and components.

The accounts note that the Irish firm also paid a €5m dividend to its parent last year, down from €6.5m in 2014.

Its turnover last year included €316.1m from the sale of cranes, €7.6m from the sale of spares and €1.3m from servicing and rework.

The accounts also show that crane sales revenue from the Middle East plunged last year to €25.7m from €63.4m in 2014.

However, crane sales revenue from the Americas more than doubled from €63.3m to €129m.

In Europe, crane sales revenue jumped from €49.7m to €74.2m, while in Africa it rose sharply from €34.4m to €50.2m. Crane sales revenue in Oceania was flat at €36.7m.

Given the nature of its product, the Irish subsidiary's shipping costs are high.

Its freight bill climbed to €23.6m last year from €21.9m in 2014. Contractual penalties rose to €6.8m from €4m.

At the end of 2015, the company employed 829 people - 100 more than at the end of 2014.

Its wage bill was €44.5m, compared to €37.9m in 2014.

The Liebherr family has become entrenched in Kerry, owning three luxury hotels in the Kingdom. Hans Liebherr built a guesthouse in Kerry in the 1950s to accommodate visitors to the new factory in Killarney.

The group now owns the five-star Europe Hotel and Resort overlooking Lough Lene, and Ard na Sidhe Country House.

It also owns the Dunloe, which closed last week for a major refurbishment programme that is expected to be complete in 2018. The group also owns hotel properties in Austria and Germany.

The three Irish hotels operate as part of the Killarney Hotels group, and between them made a €5m loss in 2014 on combined revenue of €13.4m.

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