ESTONIA. Stock-market listed cruise ferry company Tallink Grupp saw unaudited revenue from restaurant and shops sales (including onshore) slide by 2.3% to €524.4 million (US$450 million) in 2018 as spend per passenger declined slightly. In 2017, retail and restaurant revenue reached €536.7 million.

The core retail and restaurant segment accounted for 55.2% of total Tallink Grupp revenue in 2018, roughly in line with 2017 (55.5%).

Passenger numbers across the group’s Tallink and Silja Line routes were flat last year at 9.75 million. However the key route for generating duty free sales – from Sweden to Finland – saw a traffic fall of 2.5% to 2.85 million. Tallink blamed this on the maintenance and repair of the cruise ferry Baltic Princess in the first quarter of 2018 as the vessel underwent 68 days of maintenance.

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Tallink’s busiest route is Estonia-Finland which carried a total of 5.1 million passengers (up 0.3%) despite increased competition on the Tallinn to Helsinki route due to added capacity by competitors. This also put pressure on ticket prices.

The efficiency of, and demand for, the new shuttle vessel Megastar were cited as reasons for the company growing its passenger volumes and also increasing revenue on the route. Tallink Grupp has another LNG-powered shuttle on order for the Tallinn-Helsinki route costing approximately €250 million. It is being built at the Rauma shipyard in Finland and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

The remaining routes, Estonia-Sweden and Latvia-Sweden, also saw passenger increases.

The core duty free route of Finland-Sweden suffered a 2.5% decrease in traffic. (Click to enlarge)

Commenting on the retail performance, Tallink management said in a statement: “There was lower revenue from shops on land (in the Tallinn Old Harbour) as the price level of products sold in land shops in Estonia is less competitive after excise increases over recent years.”

The LNG-powered vessel Megastar will have a sister ship join her on the Tallinn-Helsinki route from 2021.

Tallink has made several investments to upgrade its restaurants, shops and other public areas. On the cruise ferry Silja Serenade the Bon Vivant restaurant was renewed and new additions included the Grill House and Sea Pub. On Baltic Queen the Grande Buffet was renewed and the new Fastlane restaurant was built.

Tallink recently announced a change in management of its restaurant and retail business. From 15 April, the Tallink Duty Free division will be under the control of Piret Mürk-Dubout, when she joins the company’s management board.

Tallink Grupp’s total unaudited consolidated revenue amounted to €949.7 million (US$814.4 million) in 2018 versus €967.0 million in 2017. Net profit slipped from €46.5 million in 2017 to €40.0 million last year. The top line group financial figures can be seen in the table below.

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