ESTONIA. Baltic ferry and short cruise operator Tallink Group has pushed its retail and restaurant sales past the €400 million mark in the first nine months of 2017, as passenger numbers improved over the period.

The listed company – which is investigating strategic ownership options – runs the world’s biggest duty free and travel retail ferry business. In the first nine months of 2017, shop and restaurant sales increased by +2.4% to reach €403.2 million.

The pace of growth was slightly below overall passenger growth which was up by +2.9% to 7.2 million. However, revenue from the retail and F&B business was ahead of passenger growth on the Estonian company’s key duty free route of Finland-Sweden, where numbers grew by just +1.0% to 2.2 million.

The Estonian company expects to close 2017 ahead of last year’s results owing to the addition of its new Megastar ferry, which was deployed in January

Tallink’s biggest volume route of Estonia-Finland – where the new fast LNG Megastar ferry has been deployed since January – saw a traffic decline of -1.2% to 3.9 million. Tallink management commented: “In the first nine months, competition in maritime traffic between Estonia and Finland has increased, which has put pressure on ticket prices.”

Tallink expects its overall operating results for 2017 to be better than that for the previous financial year thanks to the addition of Megastar, and the rerouting of ships carried out in December 2016.