Peel Ports says it had strong year as Liverpool2 container terminal opened
The owner of the Port of Liverpool says it enjoyed another strong year despite a £98m loss as it opened the massive Liverpool2 container terminal.
That terminal – known for its giant red cranes that are visible for miles around – means the port can now welcome the world’s biggest ships.
Peel Ports Group (PPG), which also controls the Manchester Ship Canal and Cammell Laird, reported a turnover of £644m for the year to March – up 8% on the previous year – with Liverpool seeing rising turnover.
Accounts newly filed at Companies House show that gave PPG an operating profit of £138m, up 11% on 2016. But interest charges of £235.8m meant it ended up with a pre-tax loss of £97.7m.
The accounts show the company owes £1.8bn in long-term debt, but Peel says its repayments are under control as it invests for growth.
The Port of Liverpool, which stretches north from Bramley Moore Dock, is PPG’s key asset, so the development of Liverpool2 is vital to the company’s growth. Each of those giant cranes is as tall as the Royal Liver Building.
A report signed by director Graeme Charnock says: “The combination of the Liverpool2 terminal with the group’s existing port assets and short sea shipping services in the Irish Sea, the Continent and along the Manchester Ship Canal is expected to provide significant advantages to both shipping lines, importers and exporters.”
The giant cranes on the river mean Liverpool can now welcome large “post-Pamamax” ships. Before that it could only handle ships of up to 4,500 TEU – the equivalent of 4,500 standard size shipping containers.
The latest report adds: “In March 2017 the terminal welcomed its first post-Panamax vessel, the 6,552 TEU HS Paris, which is the largest vessel ever to call at the Port of Liverpool.
“While Liverpool2 has the capacity to handle vessels up to 20,000 TEU, it is the smaller post-Panamax vessels that are the most likely users of the terminal.”
The Liverpool2 terminal hit the headlines again when a sinkhole opened up there in February. It was repaired by August.
The accounts state simply: “Although the terminal is open for business, as with any major construction project there is ongoing work to complete minor works and defects that are covered by the construction contractor’s completion responsibilities.”
The accounts also show that phase 2 of Liverpool2, which will see more giant cranes installed, will cost another £50m and should be operational in 2019.
Other PPG operations include the Manchester Ship Canal, the ports of Clydeport and Hunterston on the Clyde, Sheerness in Kent and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. It also owns 75% of Cammell Laird.
The total amount of goods handled by PPG fell 2.6% to 60m tonnes, mostly due to a fall in the amount of coal it handled
PPG’s highest-paid director – who is not named in the report – took home £1.5m this year. Overall the company employs 2,344 staff.
Over the year the group paid £3.6m in tax.
Source: Liverpool Echo, 26 December 2017