Irish Ferries' parent on steady course, despite Brexit
Looming Brexit and its associated uncertainty hasn't dampened business for ferry group Irish Continental Group (ICG), with its operations across the Irish Sea continuing to improve.
Releasing full-year results, the company - which operates under brands including Irish Ferries and Eucon - said its revenue rose 3pc last year to €335.1m, but its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) declined 3pc to €81m, mainly due to higher fuel costs. The ebitda decline was expected by analysts and the reported figure was ahead of expectations from Investec, which had pencilled in ebitda of €79.8m.
Irish Continental chairman John McGuckian said the results had been delivered despite higher fuel costs and weaker sterling.
The group's fuel cost rose 25.2pc to €40.3m last year, but the increase was offset by a stronger euro versus the dollar.
The company said that despite the fuel headwind, 2017 had been a "successful year", with a positive operational and financial performance in both its passenger and container and terminal divisions, "building upon the continued Irish economic recovery".
The group carried 424,000 cars last year, a 2.4pc increase on 2016. It handled almost 1.65 million passengers, which was up 1.7pc.
The amount of roll-on/roll-off freight it carried edged 0.5pc higher to 287,500 freight units.
Irish Continental said the number of trucks and trailers it carried last year between Ireland, and the UK and France, rose 5.1pc to 998,200 units.
Its Eucon container shipping unit saw volumes rise 5.9pc last year.
The company, whose CEO is Eamonn Rothwell, has bet big that Brexit won't adversely hit its business.
In January, it exercised an option to have a new €165m vessel built at a German shipyard.
The ship, which will operate on the Dublin-Holyhead route, will be delivered in 2020 and will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity. It will carry 1,800 passengers and have the capability to carry 330 freight units per sailing.
The German shipyard - Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaft - will also deliver a €154m ship to Irish Continental this summer.
The 50,000-tonne WB Yeats will accommodate 1,885 passengers and crew, have 435 cabins and space for 165 freight vehicles as well as 300 cars. It will operate the Dublin-Cherbourg route.
Since January, Irish Continental said trading conditions have been favourable, and that passenger numbers have benefited from additional high-speed sailings. However, it added that the snow last week hit operations, with conventional sailings down 9pc between January and March 3. Roll-on/roll-off freight volumes were 3.3pc lower.