Kirby Group engineers a 50pc rise in profits on new contracts
PROFITS at Irish-owned engineeering contractor Kirby Group grew by 50pc last year after the company won a series of major contracts. Profits totalled €1m in 2012, according to Kirby, an increase of 50pc. Revenues for the year were €64m.
The company said its mechanical engineering business performed particularly strongly and continues to grow, contributing over 30pc of group revenues. It also benefited from a recovery in Britain, opened a third office in Glasgow during 2012, signed a deal with utility company Scottish Power and was contracted by brewer Molson Coors to build their major new energy centre in Burton-on-Trent. "While the Irish market remained competitive, the group benefited from increased economic activity in the UK, winning a number of key contracts with clients such as IBM, Molson Coors, Victrex and GSK. UK operations accounted for 25pc of group revenues" said the firm.
One of Ireland's largest engineering firms, Kirby employs 400 people. It was founded in 1964 and has operations in Dublin, Galway, Limerick, the UK and Europe. Clients include Intel, Google, Boston Scientific, Ericsson and ESB.
It finished 2012 with reserves of €13m and no debt.
OECD CALLS FOR MORE SPANISH LABOUR REFORMS
THE OECD has urged Spain to do more labour-market reforms. The country could further cut severance pay and better match training programmes to business needs among new steps to reduce Europe's second-highest jobless rate, the OECD organisation of wealthy countries said in a report.
More than one in four Spanish workers is jobless.
Centre-right Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy adopted new rules in 2012 making it cheaper for companies to lay off workers and limiting the power of labour unions to negotiate collective bargaining agreements across entire industries or geographic regions.
The reform was one of the most successful adopted by Rajoy, who has also drastically cut public spending to try to close a yawning budget gap and pull Spain out of a five-year economic and financial crisis. The OECD report said preliminary analysis of the reforms showed they have helped bring down wages and made it easier for companies to adjust shifts and working conditions to avoid terminating workers.
However, it said most hiring in Spain was still on temporary contracts, and that the gap in benefits for temporary and permanent contracts was still too wide.
COCOA SUPPLIES DIP TO 50-YEAR LOW
GLOBAL cocoa supplies are headed for the longest production shortfall in more than five decades as chocolate demand surges in Asia. Cocoa use will top output by about 70,000 metric tonnes by next October and deficits will persist through to 2018, a six-year stretch that would be the longest since the data began in 1960, according to the International Cocoa Organisation in London. Global sales of chocolate confectionery will gain 2.1pc to a record 7.3 million tonnes next year, after a 2pc gain in 2013, estimates Euromonitor.
"Demand for chocolate is great," said commodity expert Ashmead Pringle. "A lot of the world population is moving to the middle class and will have more money to spend, in particular in emerging markets and Asia." Sales in China more than doubled in the past decade, outpacing gains in Western Europe, the biggest consumer. Tighter supplies will mean higher costs for food makers including Nestle, Barry Callebaut and Lindt & Spruengli. China is a "huge untapped market" that signals more potential for cocoa-supply shortages, said Claudio Oliveira, the head of trading at Castlestone Management in New York.
Hershey, betting heavily on rising consumption in Asia, is building a $250 million confectionery plant in Malaysia, the region's biggest cocoa grinder, to help meet its revenue target of $10bn a year by 2017.
TULLOW ABANDONS IVORY COAST WELL
IRISH-owned oil and gas explorer Tullow said its Paon-2A well off the Ivory Coast has struck water, suggesting the total hydrocarbon column of the field is only 700 metres.
"The well did not encounter oil at this location, reducing the upside volume potential associated with the Autruche field," said Angus McCoss, exploration director at Tullow.
The well is now to be plugged and abandoned.