Net loses of 17 million euro have been posted by Damen Shipyards Group for 2018 – the first time the Dutch company has announced any type of lose since 2003.
The company blames a sustained period of difficulty in a number of maritime sectors – particularly the offshore hydrocarbon sector, which, it says, continues to present tough trading conditions.
The harbour towage sector – a key market for Damen – has also been underperforming with strong competition exerting downward pressure on prices and tug operators seeking to consolidate their operations.
The group’s refit activity has increased – amid fierce competition – but the group is still having to absorb operating losses at its newly acquired companies Verolme, Curacao and Mangalia Romania.
Lower than usual activity at Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding has also had an impact.
“Despite significant investment in various projects – such as the Dutch submarine and German MKS 180 programmes – awards have not been forthcoming,” explains the group’s CEO, Réne Berkvens.
“Defence and security projects are critical – not only for the success of Damen, but also for the maintenance of a domestic naval defence industry within the Netherlands.”
Despite the news, Damen has continued to win a large number of projects – worth around 1.9 billion euro – in the last year.
“Turnover is healthy,” insists Berkvens. “The difficulty is that – despite high levels of activity – profit is under pressure from fierce competition, vessel oversupply, and increasing labour costs in certain regions.”
Damen’s acquisition of a stake in the shipyard now known as Damen Shipyard Mangalia in Romania will allow the group to enter the cruise, RoPax and large offshore vessel construction sectors, as it prepares for an increasing number of future large-scale defence and security contracts.