The ongoing forestry license backlog has seen Coillte’s revenues fall by €42m, its annual results for 2020 shows.
Coillte said sawlogs to sawmill customers were down 230,000m3 and sales of pulpwood were down by 170,000m3.
Coillte earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of €66m was down on the previous year’s €103m, while revenues of €285m were well down on 2019’s €327m.
Operating profit was €29.1m compared with €63.3m in 2019.
Coillte generated operating cash of €24m during 2020 and closed the year with net debt of €28m.
Coillte has operated as an essential service since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and has progressed a number of strategic projects during the year.
The company commenced investment in the €45m upgrade of its SmartPly wood panel manufacturing plant.
Additionally, a key milestone was reached in early 2021 when the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) approved the transaction for the establishment of a renewable energy joint venture development company with the ESB.
Subject to shareholder consent, Coillte expects the new company to be operational in quarter two of 2021.
Chair of Coillte Bernie Gray said that despite the challenges faced, Coillte delivered a solid financial performance, albeit below original expectations.
“A significant development was approval by the CCPC for the establishment of the new renewable energy joint venture development company with the ESB.
“This development and the strategic investments in our forest and wood processing businesses will enable Coillte to play an important role in the achievement of Ireland’s climate action targets.”
Coillte is projecting that 2021 will be a year of recovery, navigating through the remaining licensing challenges, resuming normal supply arrangements with customers and delivering the benefits of forestry.
Chief executive Imelda Hurley said: “Coillte has never been more relevant in the context of the challenges of our time, including the climate and biodiversity emergencies.
“As a result, 2021 will be a year focused on resolving sectoral challenges and enabling focus on Coillte’s potential contribution to these global issues.”