Scandlines navigated market volatility and the impact of COVID-19 in 2021 and maintained margins thanks to a dedicated team effort and strict cost control, the company said.
Last year, the company invested in a new emission-free freight ferry. At the same time, it announced that it was to make the Puttgarden/Rødby route emission free by 2030 and realise a zero emission vision by 2040.
Traffic continued to fluctuate substantially last year, following political decisions to impose and lift travel restrictions in Scandlines’ markets in response to COVID-19 developments.
Based on a gradual rebound in traffic volume compared to 2020, Scandlines grew revenue by 20% to €328 mill and maintained the EBITDA margin at 41%, following tight cost control measures and efficiency enhancements.
The two ferry routes generated revenue of €260 mill (2020: €216 mill) in 2021 as COVID19 certificates were introduced, improving travel options and government-imposed travel restrictions impacted fewer months of the year.
Full-year traffic figures increased by double digits across all categories, compared to 2020, but volumes remained significantly lower versus 2019 except for the freight business, which continued to deliver consistent growth throughout the year, resulting in the strongest performance yet.
The BorderShops saw higher activity in 2021, compared to 2020 and grew revenue by 19% to €68 mill on the back of fewer restrictions even though activity remained significantly lower than before the COVID19 outbreak.
This increase in revenue contributed positively to profitability, which was maintained, due to strict cost control measures and swift adjustment of staffing in response to fluctuations in activity levels.
Profit from ordinary activities (recurring EBITDA) grew by 59% to €133 mill (2020: €84 mill) corresponding to a recurring EBITDA margin at a pre-COVID-19 level of 41%, despite earnings remaining significantly lower than before the outbreak of the pandemic.
“2021 was another year of uncertainty and extreme volatility, and we were pleased to see rebounding traffic and activity levels when restrictions were lifted during the summer where we actually saw five weeks outperforming the comparison weeks in 2019 in terms of cars transported. Demand in our freight division has remained strong throughout COVID-19, and we expect to continue growing this part of our business.
“Following years of strong performance and increasing demand, we ordered an emission-free freight ferry for commissioning in 2024 on the Puttgarden/Rødby route to increase capacity by up to 23% and take another important step towards realising our zero emission vision,” said CEO, Carsten Nørland.
Scandlines’ green ambitions were also reflected in additional investments made to upgrade the existing fleet and reduce the environmental footprint. Following good initial results with the rotor sail fitted onto ‘Copenhagen’ in 2020, Scandlines prepared for the installation of a similar rotor sail on her sistership ‘Berlin’.
In addition, ‘Prins Richard’ was fitted with new pull thrusters and re-painted with silicone antifouling paint to improve energy efficiency.
“We will continue to invest in green initiatives and strengthen our competitiveness by developing our business to cater to the needs of all customers. We have therefore set out to realise our zero emission vision by 2040, and we aim to reach scope 1 and 2 zero direct emission-operations on the Puttgarden/Rødby route by 2030 as an important first step on this journey.
“The combination of our unparalleled reliability, continued investment in our unique green profile and bespoke traffic machine and retail offerings forms a solid competitive foundation for our business ahead of the planned opening of the Fehmarn Belt fixed link,” Nørland added.
COVID-19 and related restrictions impacted traffic volumes in early 2022 but this is expected to ease during the spring and summer period.
Car, passenger and shopping traffic is expected to rebound strongly in the wake of COVID-19 with bus travel gradually returning to previous levels.
The strong freight traffic performance is expected to continue throughout the year.
Due to the continued high degree of uncertainty and very low visibility, the company said that it was not in a position to provide precise financial guidance for 2022.