Financial statements for 2020: Port Esbjerg in a stronger position despite difficult year
At the Annual Meeting held on 23 June, Port Esbjerg’s Chairman gave an account of the financial statements for 2020, which was an exceptionally challenging year for Port Esbjerg due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit. Both factors put a damper on trading and activity levels and affected ports all over the world. Despite year-on-year top and bottom line declines, Port Esbjerg generated a profit in 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit put a damper on activity levels at Port Esbjerg in 2020, and this took its toll on revenue, which fell to DKK 208.9 million, while the profit for the year came to DKK 45.2 million.
While these numbers are not new, they were explained for the first time, by Flemming N. Enevoldsen, Chairman of Port Esbjerg, at the Annual Meeting held at the Esbjerg concert hall on 23 June. According to Enevoldsen, Port Esbjerg had successfully steered clear of the worst ramifications of a problem-ridden year:
“The port was hit by two of the worst imaginable factors at the same time. But thanks partially to the exceptionally strong collaboration between the port’s many players and companies, we weathered the storm relatively unscathed. We were able to keep up operations, focusing mainly on shipping goods and bulk products that were less impacted by the pandemic. Simultaneously, we made meticulous preparations for the implications of Brexit in relation to, for instance, taxes and customs duties in order to keep the trade flowing as smoothly as possible,” Enevoldsen explained.Chairman, Flemming N. Enevoldsen, presents the annual report at the annual meeting of Port Esbjerg, June 23, 2020.
Prepared for the future
In 2020, the East Harbour area became the base of the BIP Centre, the new Border Inspection Post, which has facilitated trading with the UK after Brexit. Also, Port Esbjerg decided early in the year to offer supportive measures to a number of its customers, such as discounts for ships calling at Esbjerg in regular service and extended terms of payment, in order to help them get through the Covid-19 crisis.
Enevoldsen elaborates on this in his preface to the 2020 Annual Report, which was distributed to all attendees at the Annual Meeting.
“Naturally, our initiatives to help our customers impacted on our performance for the year. But our long-term strategy was far more important. We have tried to handle the crises we have faced in such a way that we do not just steer through them here and now but also prepare for the future, making sure the businesses operating out of the port are robust and able to generate future activity. We have succeeded at that and the port is therefore in a strong position compared with other international ports in Europe,” Enevoldsen states in the Annual Report.
Overall, cargo turnover fell by 2.3% in 2020, while the number of ships calling at Esbjerg was down 5.6% year on year. The results of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for a future port expansion of up to 500,000 square metres are expected in 2021, and the Chairman takes an optimistic view of Port Esbjerg’s future:
“Covid-19 and Brexit will continue to impact our performance through the rest of the year, but we are also preparing for the future with the port expansion and other measures. Against this background, I am very optimistic about the port’s future, and I am proud of and thankful for the efforts which the port, our employees, our customers and partners and the many players at and around the port have put into steering Port Esbjerg through a difficult year”.