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Costs, not covid behind Dublin Port Company’s 2021 fall in profits

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A container ship arrives into Dublin Port. File photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A container ship arrives into Dublin Port. File photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Dublin Port Company chairman, Jerry Grant. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Dublin Port Company chairman, Jerry Grant. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Chairman of Dublin Port Company, Jerry Grant

Chairman of Dublin Port Company, Jerry Grant

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A container ship arrives into Dublin Port. File photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Higher costs, rather than Brexit or Covid, were behind a large dip in Dublin Port Company’s profits last year.

Pre-tax profits fell by 24.5pc, or €9.73m, to €29.95m, according to the company’s annual report. Meanwhile, costs increased by 16.8pc, or €7.2m.

Payroll costs increased by 5pc to €13.6m, while non-pay costs increased by €6.6m to €36.8m – mainly due to higher depreciation charges of €2.9m and higher rates charges of €3.7m after a 2020 rates waiver expired.

Despite the twin challenges of Brexit and Covid-19, revenues dipped by just 1pc from €86.59m to €85.76m.

Brexit saw freight volumes on British routes fall by a fifth in 2021, although direct routes to Europe grew by around 50pc.

Throughput was down on 2020 by 5.2pc to 34.9m tonnes, the annual report said. Exports fell by 9.4pc to 13.7m tonnes, while imports fell by 2.3pc to 21.2m tonnes.

The port firm’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were €48.8m, compared to €53.9m in 2020.

Dublin Port Company chairman Jerry Grant said the “robust performance in throughput terms was matched by a strong financial performance”.

“As expected, 2021 proved to be a very challenging year for Dublin Port Company,” Mr Grant said.

Chief executive Eamonn O’Reilly said Dublin Port
expects “strong growth – in volumes and EBITDA – with continued capital investment in port infrastructure”.

Capital investment totalled €59.1m in 2020 and €71.6m in 2021, with budgeted investment for 2022 of €83.3m.

Mr O’Reilly – who will step down in August after 12 years as CEO – said the port expects “to see volumes begin to increase again in 2022 and surpass the record level of 2019, possibly as early as 2023”.

He said that border controls by state services are operating very efficiently, to the extent that the company is seeking the return of at least half of the 14.6 hectares of port lands given over to facilitate the border inspection operations.

“This is a critical challenge if we are to mitigate the already emerging capacity pinch points,” he said.

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Last year, Dublin Port recorded 845,236 ferry passengers, compared to 1.9m in 2019. There were no cruise calls to Dublin Port in 2021. There was one in 2020 and 158 in 2019.

Mr O’Reilly’s pay package last year remained unchanged at €259,000 – €185,000 in salary, fees of €13,000 plus pension and taxable benefits of €61,000.

The number of people earning over €100,000 at Dublin Port last year increased from 42 to 56 – Four people earned between €175,000 and €200,000, four earned between €150,000 and €175,000, 18 earned between €125,000 and €150,000, and 30 earned between €100,000 and €125,000.

Numbers employed by the Dublin Port Company last year increased from 154 to 156 and staff costs went up from €16.14m to €17.5m. Pay to key management personnel last year totalled €2.15m.

Dublin Port’s shareholder funds at the end of last year totalled €535m, including accumulated profits of €520.4m.

The port company’s cash funds declined from €160.13m to €123.9m last year. No ­dividend was paid out.


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