James Fisher and Sons, the marine services group with a string of businesses in the north-east, said its offshore oil division has recorded a 275% boost in profits.
The Cumbria-based group posted pre-tax profits of £24.5million for the first half of the year, up 1% from the same period in 2018, taking into account each division’s performance, with operating profits up 10% to £286.9m.
James Fisher’s operations include Marine Support, Specialist Technical, Offshore Oil and Tankships.
“Strong performance” in the offshore oil segment saw the division’s underlying operating profits surge 275% to £4.5m, from £1.2million in the first six months of 2018
The group said there has been “gradual improvement in demand in the sector” in recent months, moving from the recent oil downturn, with particular gains for RMSpumptools, an artificial lift completion technology firm based in Oldmeldrum.
The £3.3m boost in underlying profits was put down to increased equipment hires with operators.
Inspection and maintenance was the main driver, however well testing remained flat with exceptions in the Middle East and Norway.
James Fisher said its strategy following the 2015 downturn was to reduce headcount by around 40% to cut costs but added that its fleet of equipment is now worth £42.9m and any upturn in market conditions will require “little further investment”.
Other north-east businesses owned by the group include the National Hyperbaric Centre (NHC) in Aberdeen, Oldmeldrum companies Fisher Offshore and ScanTech Offshore and JFD Global (UK), based at Westhill.
JFD includes the former Divex subsea equipment business, which Fisher acquired in 2013 for up to £33m.
In 2016, the group acquired Aberdeen-based visual asset management company Return To Scene from administrators in a £2m deal.
CEO Nick Henry said: “We remain well positioned across all four of our divisions with significant growth opportunities ahead. As previously advised, the phasing of projects has made the year more weighted to the second half, which will also begin to benefit from the investment committed to in the first half.
“The Group remains well placed to deliver an improved financial performance in the year and to continue to provide future value to its shareholders.”