THE Isles of Scilly Steamship Company has reported strong financial results following a 'landmark year' which has seen record investment in its air and sea services.
The company said its staff had risen to the challenge posed by the demise of the island helicopter service last October and it had invested a record £3.5 million in boosting capacity and strengthening transport links to the islands.
This included a £2 million upgrade to its Scillonian passenger ship and work on freight vessels Gry Maritha and Lyonesse Lady to extend their life until at least 2018, and the completion of a new £1 million terminal building at Land's End Airport and its upgrade to a category 3 facility.
Since the end of the financial year, the company has also leased another Twin Otter aircraft.
The company says it has created 50 new jobs, including pilots, engineers, fire crew and customer service staff, increasing its workforce to more than 200 by the summer of 2013.
Publishing the company's annual report, chairman Andrew May said: "The company's continued strong performance has allowed us to make record investment in developing the route to meet increased market demand.
"We set ourselves the challenge of increasing our capacity so that we could carry every passenger wishing to travel to and from the islands from the start of the season, on whichever route they chose, and we met that challenge.
"Our strong cash position means we will continue to invest in strengthening the route.
Mr May also announced that chief executive Jeff Marston had decided to retire from the business towards the middle of next year after 12 years in the post, and that a recruitment process for his successor had begun.
He said: "The company has taken these extra demands and rapid expansion in its stride and Jeff has been at the centre of these improvements. Jeff feels that his work is done and we thank him for everything he has done for the company over the past 12 years."
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company's financial results show that in the 12 months to March 31, 2013 turnover increased by 7.2 per cent (2012: 4 per cent) to £12, 485,719. This was mainly due to an increase in Skybus passengers over the winter of 2012-13 following the cessation of scheduled helicopter services in October 2012 and was achieved despite difficult operating conditions.
Pre-tax profits across the group rose to £1,069,587 (2012: £944,927), an increase of 13.2 per cent.