Port of Dundee owner Forth Ports had its “most challenging year ever” as profits fell more than 20%.
Newly filed accounts at Companies House show the impact of the pandemic on the major ports group.
Forth Ports has eight UK ports, including Rosyth, Burntisland, Kirkcaldy and Methil as well as Tilbury, London’s closest port.
It is investing £40 million to upgrade infrastructure at Port of Dundee.
Revenues dipped from £238.5m in 2019 to £231.1m last year, the accounts show.
Pre-tax profits, excluding exceptional items and revaluations, was £62.1m last year, compared to £81m in 2019.
Forth Ports’ list of 2020 challenges
Chief executive Charles Hammond said the group’s businesses challenges were not just Covid-19 and Brexit but also a major fire at Tilbury.
“Reflecting back on 2020 it can fairly be described as the most challenging year ever,” he states in the accounts.
“Not only with an enforced lockdown and the reduction in trade demand that followed, but then the effect that had on the progress and completion of our flagship new port project of Tilbury2.
“We have also had to deal with the aftermath of a serious incident at our grain silo in Tilbury.
“In addition we also had the challenge of preparing our customers, systems and processes for an uncertain Brexit outcome.”
The fire service determined the June 3 blast which destroyed a large grain store’s roof at Tilbury was caused by a rare “dust explosion”.
Forth Ports plans for growth in 2021
But despite the challenges, the ports boss said the trading performance had been “solid”.
Notable achievements in the year included Tilbury2 starting operation and not furloughing a single member of staff.
Mr Hammond added: “Coming into 2021 we have a platform for growth and are as strong as ever thanks to the hard work and dedication of our workforce and the long standing relationships we have with many of our customers and suppliers.”
Chief financial officer Carole Cran said the group has delivered “solid results” while acknowledging it had been a “very challenging year”.
She added: “The Port of Dundee had a good year on the back of increased North Sea oil and gas revenues and jack up drilling rig related activity.
“Dundee will see continued investment totalling £40 million as we complete the new quayside later this year and undertake associated works to accommodate the NnG offshore wind project with Siemens.
“This work will further equip the port to handle both offshore wind and North Sea oil and gas decommissioning projects.”
In January, Forth Ports acquired the entire shareholding of Angus tug boat operation Targe Towing Limited.
£40m investment in Port of Dundee
Port of Dundee will be used to assemble of all 54 turbines for Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm.
Phase one of the work saw the construction of heavy lift quayside, the Prince Charles Wharf Extension, which was used for the prominent Shell Curlew decom project.
14 buildings have been demolished on land east of Shed 26 stretching from Stannergate Road to the River Tay.
This land will become a flat surface with a layer of aggregates for storage.
Meanwhile the Caledon East quayside is being knocked down. Instead there will be a new, larger quayside, currently named Caledon East Replacement Wharf.
Dredging work 60 metres out is also taking place to allow access for the world’s largest heavy lift vessels.