Posted on Thursday 16 June 2016 by Ulster Business
Belfast Harbour said it is in the process of transforming the city's dockside as it revealed profits of nearly £30m in 2015.
The figure, based on underlying pretax profits and up by £700,000 on 2014, has been helped by the passage of 23m tonnes of goods through the port, 1.4m ferry passengers and 110,000 cruise passengers.
All have edged up from the previous year and, while still central to the harbour’s day-to-day business – it handles 70% of Northern Ireland’s seaborne trade and 20% of the entire island’s - revenue streams are expected to be bolstered further by the continued development of new office and hotel space adjacent to the water.
The five-storey grade A office City Quays 1 was completed during the year and is currently occupied by the world’s largest law firm Baker & McKenzie and US IT firm Cayan, amongst others.
The “speculative” construction of its sister office City Quays 2 is currently underway and “will prove helpful in Invest NI’s objective of securing both new entrants to the NI market and expanding indigenous businesses particularly in the targeted knowledge-based sectors,” Belfast Harbour Chief Executive Roy Adair said in his annual review.
City Quays 1 was also very much a speculative build and commenced at a time when other developers were struggling to raise funds to build offices in Belfast as a result of relatively low rental values and despite a well-publicised shortage of so-called grade A office space.
Belfast Harbour, which has run a cash-rich business as a result of legislation which prevents it from borrowing, was able to start the process of building office space when others couldn’t, offices which were and are ready to be occupied in a healthier rental market.
In addition, it has plans for a 190-bed hotel alongside City Quays 2 and 900-space multi-storey car park, as well as current development of 130,000 square feet of film studio space at Belfast City Council’s North Foreshore site.
“The landscape of Belfast Harbour is being transformed as new marine and real estate developments come to fruition,” Dr David Dobbin, the chair of Belfast Harbour said. “With £100mn committed to projects which are already underway, or are in the process of securing planning - such as the proposed new cruise berth - we are laying the foundations for how Belfast Harbour will look and feel for the 21st Century.”
“These investments are resulting in new jobs and improved regional competitiveness. Belfast Harbour is committed to helping the Northern Ireland economy grow and prosper.”