Defence cuts hit Cammell Laird

REDUCED spending by the Ministry of Defence and a slowdown in the refurbishment of Royal Navy ships contributed towards a 19% fall in sales at Birkenhead-based in 2011.

The company saw sales drop to £75.6m (2010: £93.3m), while pre-tax profits also fell back 10% to £6.6m (£7.3m).

Cammell Laird, which is a joint venture between company’s management and the Peel-owned Mersey Docks & Harbour Company, described the results as “strong” when set against the general economic background.

It also said that proceeds made from its financial performance were continuing to be re-invested into other parts of the business to ensure “that we are well positioned to manage the current and future business successfully.

A report accompanying the accounts by chief executive officer John Syvrett said the major highlights of the year were the refit of the Royal Navy’s Gold Rover and ongoing work on sections of the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier. It completed contracts for a number commercial ferry operators too, including Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Irish Ferries, Northlink Ferries and Maersk/DFDS.

Mr Syvrett also said the firm is also moving into the energy sector – most notably the offshore energy and nuclear markets. He said the challenge with these markets was in establishing the necessary relationships, but it has already landed an initial three-year deal worth £5m with RWE npower for the €2bn Gwynt y Môr wind farm planned off the Flintshire coast in the Irish Sea, as well as developing relationships with Ansaldo Nucleare and Nuvia. The latter “have a strong foothold in the nuclear sector”, Syvret said.

“It is hoped that these key relationships will help deliver long term growth in this exciting multi-billion pound UK market,” he added, with a dedicated nuclear business likely to spin out from the business.

The company, which saw average staff numbers dip to 527 from 593 in the previous year, increased net assets to £12.6m (£6.8m).

Syvret said that he expected its financial performance for 2012 “to be strong with turnover close to the levels reported in 2009 and 2010.”