The Port of Milford Haven’s 2020 Annual Report and Accounts highlights the challenging trading conditions felt in 2020 due to Covid-19. Designated a frontline operation as part of the pandemic response, the Port’s focus for the reporting period was not just financial; it’s aims were to ensure the safety of its own employees, maintaining support for other key worker operations on the Milford Haven Waterway and wider community, whilst progressing its ambition for diversification.
LNG shipping remained strong and demonstrated the Waterway’s importance as a nationally vital energy hub with, at one point during the pandemic, 85% of the UK’s gas needs being satisfied by the Waterway terminals. However, overall shipping was down with cargo volume falling to 33.5 tonnes (2019: 35m) reflecting the significantly reduced demand for transportation fuels. Total revenue was also down, 10% year on year at £25.2m (2019: £28.1m). This had a major impact on profitability with an operating loss of £0.7m reported for the year (2019: £5.7m). A return to profitability is anticipated in 2021.
By prioritising safe working practice, the Port was able to manage the safety of its employees and maintain frontline operations with no significant impact to vessel traffic during the year. Investment also continued in the Port’s core maritime operations to maximise long-term resilience and reflect a new core value of sustainability; ensuring that decisions and investments make are carefully considered for their impact both on our business operations and the wider environment.
Progress was also made with the Port’s flagship projects, Milford Waterfront and Pembroke Dock Marine. With the hospitality industry stalled and events cancelled, the Port still made a significant step forward in its plans to strengthen its Milford Waterfront proposition with construction beginning on the 100 bed, Tŷ Hotel. Operated and managed by The Celtic Collection – the team behind the iconic Celtic Manor Resort – this new addition to Milford Waterfront will form part of The Celtic Collection’s portfolio of Tŷ Hotels. At Pembroke Port, the Pembroke Dock Marine business case was approved and the associated planning application was submitted. The Port is investing £13.5m in the development alongside funding from the Swansea Bay City Deal and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. With its focus on supporting the growth of a new energy sector, it will complement and widen the Port’s profile as the UK’s largest energy Port. Both developments play key roles in the Port’s aim to strengthen Pembrokeshire’s long-term prosperity and create opportunities throughout the community as part of the post-Covid recovery.
In terms of looking ahead, the Port sees strong potential for additional developments that will continue to support the offshore floating wind industry’s keen interest in the Celtic Sea, as well as supporting developments in hydrogen. Maximising the potential for UK industrial growth from such large-scale developments form a key tenet in the Port’s call for Freeport status in Pembrokeshire and will ensure the strong energy cluster remains for Wales’ west coast.
Commenting on the year Chris Martin, Chair of the Port, said “It is difficult to imagine a more challenging backdrop to trading than in 2020. The spread of the coronavirus global pandemic swept away many norms. I was proud to see the Port designated a key worker operation, and very proud of the way our colleagues dealt with the significant challenges to ensure supplies kept moving during this critical time. I remain deeply impressed by the resilience of the business and the aptitude all our staff have shown in these extraordinary times. Growth and investment will be critical in securing a strong post-Covid recovery and there are exciting opportunities ahead. By working alongside our communities, we can build an exceptional future for Pembrokeshire.”
Chief Executive, Andy Jones, continued: “2020 was the year that tested every aspect of our standing as a Trust Port. The pandemic has had a clear negative impact on our financial results in 2020, however, it is not the only lens through which I would choose to judge our accomplishments in this very unusual year. As a business, we acquitted ourselves well, ensured we had the resources to weather the storm and delivered the services our customers and stakeholders require and expect us to deliver while also bringing a fresh perspective on our collective need for sustainability. Our role enabling a critical link in the UK’s supply chain of energy and goods was demonstrated in abundance. We made good progress with partners to further our exciting plans on both sides of the Waterway.”
The 2020 Annual Report and Accounts can be viewed here.