Barrow’s James Fisher searches for new CFO

James Fisher and Sons plc, the Barrow-in-Furness marine engineering firm, announced that Duncan Kennedy has informed the company of his intention to step down from his position as chief financial officer and executive director within the next 12 months.

“The board has instigated a search for his successor and Duncan will remain in post until his successor commences to ensure an orderly handover …” said the company.

Information regarding the payments to be made to Duncan Kennedy in connection with him stepping down as chief financial officer will be disclosed on the company’s website and in the company’s directors’ remuneration reports in accordance with the company’s statutory obligations.”

James Fisher chairman Angus Cockburn, Chairman said: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank Duncan for his contribution to the company over the last two years, particularly in relation to the recent implementation of our new strategy.

“On behalf of everyone at James Fisher, we wish him all the very best for the future.”

Kennedy said: “I have enjoyed my time as CFO of James Fisher and am proud of the progress we have made in simplifying the business and reducing its debt.

“My best wishes for the future go to everyone at the company.”

James Fisher also published an update on trading for the six months ended June 30, 2023.

“The board is pleased to report that the encouraging start to the year was maintained through the second quarter,” said James Fisher.

“Group revenue from continuing operations in the period is expected to be c.£250m, representing growth of c.16% compared to the same period in 2022.

“Underlying operating profit and operating profit margin from continuing operations are both expected to show modest growth compared to the same period in 2022, with the revenue uplift more than offsetting increased investment to strengthen core capabilities within the group, including the formation of our Business Excellence team. 

All three divisions delivered revenue and profit growth compared to the same period in 2022, with the Energy division performing particularly well following strong market demand for well-testing, bubble curtain and artificial lift products and services.

“Defence is expected to report a modest profit for the period compared to a modest loss in 2022.

“Within the Maritime Transport division, Tankships has maintained its good performance, with high tanker utilisation and solid day rates for spot charters. Fendercare’s ship-to-ship transfer business has stabilised at levels in line with H2 2022 …

“Net bank borrowings at 30 June 2023 were c.£147m, compared to £133m at 31 December 2022.

“The normal seasonality of the business, unwind of working capital balances and costs associated with the £210m new revolving credit facility have led to a cash outflow in the first half of the year despite asset sales generating net proceeds of c.£20m in the period.

“The group continues to expect net bank borrowings to reduce by the end of the 2023 financial year, in line with its usual trading profile.” 

James Fisher CEO Jean Vernet said: “I am pleased with the group’s first half performance, with all three divisions contributing to revenue growth of 16%, alongside a modest improvement in margins.

“We are starting to see the benefits of the operational improvements being implemented throughout James Fisher.

“These, combined with the previously announced business and asset disposals and the refinancing concluded in June, provide us with a stronger platform for the future.

“Despite uncertainty in the macro-economic environment, the Group’s markets remain resilient and the Board’s outlook for the full year remains unchanged.”