Record profit as Napier Port cements spot in top 4

By Patrick O'Sullivan

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Napier Port has had a 6.7% profit increase on last year, Photo/Duncan Brown
Napier Port has had a 6.7% profit increase on last year, Photo/Duncan Brown

Napier Port continues to defy tough economic times by again recording a record profit, but forecasted growth will require increased borrowing.

Profit after tax to the September 30 year was up 6.7 per cent on last year to $11.8 million, achieved with a 3 per cent revenue increase to $62 million.

A dividend of $6.1 million was paid to the port's owner, the council-owned Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company.

At its annual meeting yesterday, port chairman Jim Scotland said a combination of higher container and general cargo volumes contributed to the result.

Log export volumes rose 23 per cent, sourced from throughout the Central North Island.

General cargo accounted for 60 per cent of business by weight but containerised tonnage rose by 3.8 per cent, including 220,000 tonnes of apples - the highest crop export volume on record.

Continuing growth cements Napier Port in the top four container ports in the country, with the same number of larger ship visits as Auckland, Lyttelton and Tauranga.

Growth over the last five years was steady despite "interesting times" in recent years, with the loan of a tug to help salvage the Rena shipwreck in 2011 providing "a bonus income".

Port chief executive Garth Cowie said that to be able to cater for continued growth, a new berth would be built, new cranes would soon be commissioned and the second stage of a dredging programme that would enable ships to be turned in sheltered waters close to the port was due to be finished in August.

Construction of a new administration building would commence early next year.

"We are also investing about $3.5 million in additional paving, in the log yard in particular, to give us greater volume and flexibility."

Yet to be approved by the board was the relocation of the port's empty-container store to Pandora, a new wharf and a "terminal intensification process".

A projected doubling of log volumes by 2023 may happen sooner, with some exporters saying they may harvest earlier "by anything up to six years".

Projected capital expenditure for the 2014-2015 years was estimated to be about $30 million.

The port's debt facility was increased from $80 million to $110 million, which might provide a handy leeway in the event of an earthquake, Mr Cowie said.

The insurance excess on seismic events rose from $500,000 to $20 million over the last three years.

The port's long-term plan includes extensions to the breakwater at either ends, with a reclamation through to shore on the CBD side of the port.

Retiring board member Steve Reindler was replaced by former Unison general manager Wendie Harvey and John Loughlan was reappointed.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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