THE owners of Sandbanks Ferry posted a pre-tax loss of more than £721,000 last financial year, accounts show. 

Essex-based Fairacres Group, which runs Bournemouth-Swanage Motor Road and Ferry Company, said 2022/23 was a “challenging year” for the ferry. 

Documents submitted to Companies House show the turnover for the ferry in 2022/23 was £2,400,575 compared to £3,049,698 for the previous financial year. 

A report by independent auditor Richard Luckin blamed the slow-down in turnover on the “severe disruption” caused by the scheduled refit which was prolonged because of damage caused while being towed to Falmouth. 

Bournemouth Echo: Sandbanks Ferry at StudlandSandbanks Ferry at Studland (Image: Taken with assistance of Bournemouth Helicopters)

Bournemouth Echo: Sandbanks FerrySandbanks Ferry (Image: Daily Echo)

“As a result, the division has reported a pre-tax loss of £721,149 compared to a pre-tax profit of £1,060,278 in the previous year,” the documents said. 

However, it was predicted that revenue and trading returns would return to a “more normal level” during 2023/24. 

Managing director Jason du Toit said there is "nothing to worry about" regarding the company's future and that there will be "no job losses whatsoever" on the horizon.

Regarding the losses, he told the Echo: "It's a combination of things, such as damage done to the ferry on its way to a refit and costs are rising in all areas.

"A set of chains costs in excess of £70k and have to be brought in overseas. There are a lot of hidden costs that the public aren't so aware of."

Earlier this week, Jason said the costs of running the chain ferry have “risen exponentially”, and tolls need to be increased. 

The company announced it was under “heavy financial strain” due to rising costs in running the ferry coupled with "the pressure of increased corporation tax and lower than projected income". 

Bosses said they aim to, with the support of the Department for Transport, align tolls with inflation and reduce some of the "unsustainable discounts" currently available whilst increasing others. 

Fairacres Group, which also runs hotels in Suffolk, posted a loss of £680,857 in 2022/23 compared to a profit of £1,239,966 the year before. 

In comparison to pre-Covid, accounts for the year ending March 2018 show the ferry turned over £3.13million and generated a pre-tax profit of £1.48m. 

The documents show the company also looked at the cost of replacing the existing vessel Bramble Bush, which came into service in 1994, with a new diesel electric ferry. 

But this came with an approximate cost of £11.4m.

The present Sandbanks Ferry - Bramble Bush Bay - came into service in January 1994 and is the fourth ferry to operate since the company started in 1923. 

Every two years, the chain ferry undergoes a refit, alternating between major and minor refits.