Full steam ahead as revenues climb to €14.7m at Titanic Belfast company

Visitors to Belfast last year included Brynjar Karl, a young boy with autism from Reykjavik, Iceland, who loves both Lego and ships, and built the Titanic solely from toy bricks

Pre-tax profits at the firm that operates Northern Ireland's most popular visitor attraction fell by 31pc to £800,697 (€1m) last year.

New accounts filed by Titanic Belfast Ltd show that the firm sustained the drop in pre-tax profits in spite of revenues increasing by 7pc to £11.66m (€14.7m).

The directors' report states that in the year under review to the end of March last, the centre attracted "an impressive" 625,000 visitors.

The attraction celebrates Belfast as the birth place of the ill-fated Titanic.

In the first three years of the centre operating, over two million visitors have visited the attraction.

The centre opened in March 2012 and according to the directors' report, the company - led by Donegal man Pat Doherty of Harcourt Developments - has enjoyed a successful third year as a top visitor attraction in Northern Ireland.

Visitor numbers increased by 2pc year on year with 76pc of visitors coming from outside Northern Ireland from 170 countries. The directors add that an independent three-year review has calculated an economic benefit of £105m to the local economy since its opening.

An estimated 678,000 visitors from Northern Ireland have visited the centre since it opened, the report added.

The drop in profit arose chiefly from the firm's administrative expenses increasing from £6.27m to £7.42m.

Last year's profit takes account of non-cash depreciation costs of £712,127.

The average number of staff employed last year increased from 134 to 153 with staff costs totalling £2.45m. A gross profit of £7.9m was recorded after incurring cost of sales totalling £3.75m.

The directors state that "the appeal of the Titanic story, the quality of the visitor experience facilities and the professionalism of staff continues to drive sustainable consumer demand".

The firm recorded a post-tax profit of £502,596 after paying corporation tax of £298,101.