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Thursday, February 4, 1999 Published at 11:39 GMT

Business: The Company File

Cammell Laird looks shipshape

Cammell Laird says it is now number one in the UK

Shipbuilder Cammell Laird has announced healthy trading figures in its half year results, with turnover quadrupling compared over the previous year.

The figures are partly due to the successful purchase of the Wear Dockyard Group and Tyne Dock Engineering in August last year.

[ image: Cammell Laird says the future is looking good]
Cammell Laird says the future is looking good
The acquisition added four dry-docks in the north east and established Cammell Laird as the UK's premier commercial ship repairer, the company said.

In the six months to October 31, turnover increased to 41.8m compared with 10.5m the year previously. It surpassed the company's turnover for the full year to April 1998, which stood at 31.7m.

Profit before tax also increased to 4.7m from 1.3m in the six month period.

Full steam ahead

Chairman of the Birkenhead group, Juan Kelly, said: "The group may now be able to claim UK leadership in its field, but this does not mean we plan to rest on our laurels.

"World trade continues to grow year after year, regardless of the economic climate, which serves only to affect the rate of growth but does not stop it," Mr Kelly said.

"Since shipping is the backbone of global transportation, growth in trade constantly creates opportunities for global expansion with the marine industry as a whole."

Ferry demand boosts Merseyside

The group also reported that Cammell Laird on Merseyside had turned in a record six-month result on the back of strong demand from both the offshore and ferry markets.

Its Gibraltar operations also continue to perform well and was developing the market in cruise ship refits.

DG Electrical continues to expand with two further acquisitions made in the period. Its technical services division had also opened offices in the North-East and Oslo to service the North Sea offshore sector.

Workforce grows

Cammell Laird said it had steadily increased the workforce at the new enlarged company from around 750 workers to 2,300.

It was building a niche market in speciality deep sea, oil exploration and cable-laying.

Brett Martin, deputy chief executive and finance director, said that much of the turnover and profit improvement had been generated from existing business.

The new acquisitions accounted for only 9m of to 41.8 million turnover in the six month period and for 168,000 operating profit out of a total of 4.7m.

Mr Martin said the shipyard would never see the same activity as in the 1950s, when Cammell Laird employed 15,000 people, but it had a healthy future ahead of it in its new markets.

"The Far Eastern countries of Korea, China and Japan have captured the market for the bulk building of container ships. But while they may be good at turning out floating boxes, we have gained a reputation for building high-quality specialist vessels that serve a specific function," he said.

The company said it was now focusing on refitting military vessels. It had won orders from the Navy for work on supply vessels and was hoping to win contracts for warships in the near future.

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