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Passage East Ferry Company is Sold to Carlingford Ferries

31st May 2016
Passage East Ferry – along with 28 vehicles, the ferry can carry up to130 passengers, connecting Waterford City with the Hook Peninsula in Wexford Passage East Ferry – along with 28 vehicles, the ferry can carry up to130 passengers, connecting Waterford City with the Hook Peninsula in Wexford

Passage East Ferry Company, one of Ireland’s most established domestic ferry services, has been purchased by the owners of Carlingford Ferries, it was announced today.

The decision to sell came as founding shareholder, Derek Donnelly, announced his retirement from the business. FBD Holdings plc holds a 70% share in the business, arising out of a legacy investment.

The sale of Passage East Ferry Company, which traverses the River Suir between Passage East, Co Waterford and Ballyhack, Co Wexford, generated significant interest when it was announced last December on the back of strong financial results and growth projections. Turnover is in the region of €1.6m per annum – up 5% in 2015 – with 30% year-on-year growth in EBITDA.

The purchaser is Limerick-based Frazer Ferries, the company behind the proposed car ferry across the mouth of Carlingford Lough, between Greenore, Co Louth and Greencastle, Co Down.

Commenting on the sale, Paul O’Sullivan of Carlingford Ferries said: “We are very pleased to complete the transaction of Passage East Ferry Company. The ferry is a long-established business and provides a vital service in the region. We look forward to working closely with the team as we embark on this next exciting chapter.”

The sale process was managed by leading business advisory specialists Crowe Horwath.
Managing Partner at Crowe Horwath, Naoise Cosgrove, said: “Passage East Ferry Company boasts a strong trading history, solid revenues, growing EBITDA and clear potential for further growth fuelled by economic and tourism activity in the region, which remains on an upward trajectory.

“It is a smart investment for Carlingford Ferries,” he continued, “who are acquiring a profitable and cash-generative business.”

The sale includes a 28-vehicle ferry and a commercial premises with offices, and stores at Passage East, Co Waterford.

Along with 28 vehicles, the ferry can carry up to130 passengers, connecting Waterford City with the Hook Peninsula in Wexford and operates throughout the year - seven days a week - making an average of 106 sailings per day, increasing to 112 during the summer months.

The five-minute ferry journey is estimated to save 90-minutes journey time for round trip commuters.

Passage East Ferry Company employs 16 full-time staff, all of whom are unaffected by the sale.

Published in Ferry

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!