Freight operator DFDS Seaways saw freight volumes increase in September after plunging 22% at the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown, according to its latest annual report.

The Immingham-based company said the rise could be driven by “Covid-19 catch up” or businesses stocking up ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period and questioned if the increase was sustainable.

The company’s results for the year to 31 December 2019 reveal turnover up by 1% to £63.5m (2018: £63.1m with pre-tax losses running at £5.4m (2018:£1.9m).

In the annual report to the results, MD Andrew Byrne said: “We have definitely seen an increase in volume throughout September.

“All routes served are busier now than they were, but we don’t know how sustainable that is. It is possibly Covid catch-up, and also possibly people starting to stock up ahead of the EU transition.

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“We are certainly seeing warehouses fill up as well as more cargo going through the quay.

“It is going to be a difficult year to marker. It has been a particularly difficult year, we have made some big changes and taken a lot of cost out of the business. Hopefully we will see the volumes hold up over the next year.”

Following a major restructuring, 62 jobs have been cut across the business which employs 650 staff. The group has also laid up 50 ferries.

In his report, Byrne said: “Covid 19 has had a significant negative impact to the business as volumes in quarter two 2020, at the height of the pandemic, were 22% lower than the same period in the previous year.

“The directors took steps to minimise the impact of Covid-19 wherever possible during the period by utilising the UK government furlough scheme to reduce salary costs and by taking steps to minimise other costs across the business.”

He added: “In quarter three, 2020 volumes are heading in a positive direction. A restructure throughout the business, lowering the fixed costs and creating a more agile commercial structure, will further improve the result.”