Record results for IoS Steamship

Isles of Scilly Steamship Company chairman Andrew May

The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, which operates lifeline passenger and freight services to the Isles of Scilly, is celebrating its 90th year in business with record turnover and a 17% increase in operating profit.

The company, which has close to 1,000 shareholders, around half of whom live on the Islands, has published its annual review ahead of next month’s Annual General Meeting.

Chairman Andrew May reported group turnover up 2.4% in the year ended March 31, to a record £9,775,224 (2009: £9,545,658), while operating profit leapt 17% to £628,067 (£537,035), with the company carrying 73,000 passengers to the islands by air and sea.

This accounted for 61.4% of the total passenger market, an increase of 3.4 percentage points on the year before. The Group’s Skybus air operation, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, increased its market share to 50.2% of all passengers flying to St Marys, compared with 46.6% the year before.

Shareholders will see a dividend of £0.07 per share (£0.05).

May, who on behalf of the board paid tribute to chief executive Jeff Marston and all staff for the company’s performance, said: “This is our 90th year of service to the Islands’ community and our focus on customer care and value for money have ensured that it is one of continued success and growing market share, despite challenging conditions created by uncertainty in the UK economy.

“We have been chosen as preferred operator by Cornwall Council of the proposed new passenger and freight vessel due to enter service in 2013. We have also made strategic acquisitions including the Ivor B freighter, boosting our freight capacity, and Penzance Dry Dock which has already contributed to Group performance.

“The combination of our air and sea operation and careful management of existing assets means we will continue to provide a robust service to and from the islands.”

May said so far this year the fine weather had contributed to the best ever June in the 26-year history of Skybus, and passenger numbers on the Scillonian III were up by 1,000 on the same month last year.

Looking ahead, he said the Group’s cash reserves of almost £4 million would help it meet future obligations, including start-up and fit-out costs of the new Cornwall Council vessel and terminals, and ongoing maintenance costs of the Scillonian III and Gry Maritha cargo ship pending the arrival of the new vessel, scheduled for the second quarter of 2013.