New chair for Sealink operator as company profits soar

A longstanding board member has been named the new chair of Kelsian, as the company’s revenue and profit spikes.

Feb 28, 2024, updated Feb 28, 2024
Fiona Hele has been named the new chair of Kelsian. Photo: Argo Investments.

Fiona Hele has been named the new chair of Kelsian. Photo: Argo Investments.

Non-executive director Fiona Hele will helm transport services company Kelsian – the operator of Sealink – replacing Jeff Ellison who announced his retirement in September last year.

Hele joined Kelsian in 2016, was appointed deputy chair in August 2022 and will replace Ellsion from 1 July 2024. She also sits on the board of South Australia’s second largest company, Argo Investments.

Her appointment comes as the company – which also has public transport contracts in six Australian states and territories as well as a US-based bus services business – announced a half year profit before tax of $35.6 million.

It also recorded revenue growth of 44.9 per cent to $982.7 million, and profit after tax of $28.1 million (up 44.1 per cent), with growth attributed to the contribution of its US business All Aboard America! Holdings and three new government-contracted bus regions in Western Sydney.

Group CEO and managing director Clint Feuerherdt said Kelsian was “well placed to deliver scalable growth”.

“A highlight of the half was the seamless transition of the new contract regions in Sydney which were transitioned on time and on budget, demonstrating operational excellence in transitioning large and complex bus contracts,” he said.

“From network planning to procurement and operational management, vehicle maintenance and human resourcing, Kelsian has a record of high-performance outcomes.”

The CEO added that labour availability issues that previously impacted the company’s ability to meet service requirements “have now abated; in part due to an improved labour market and in part due to extensive recruitment and training programs that were well executed during the period”.

“Growth in the Marine & Tourism business was pleasing as it was achieved despite widespread cost of living headwinds impacting consumer confidence and the business was cycling a strong result in the prior period,” he said.

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“Inclement weather in the all-important month of December, as well as a softening in demands for domestic travel in December did impact the result.”

Kelsian – its name an anagram of Sea Link and one of South Australia’s top 10 companies – said it expected further growth in the second half of the financial year “underpinned by economies of scale, efficiencies and global procurement opportunities”, particularly with the Western Sydney bus contracts.

“The new contracts in Western Sydney are in the fastest population growth corridor in Sydney, and this growth is expected to continue with the launch of a new international airport from 2026,” Kelsian said.

“We are confident that continued revenue growth will be underpinned by incremental Sydney contracts, expansion of routes, and a full complement of labour to support an improvement in margins in the coming months.

“Furthermore, Kelsian is expected to benefit from first mover advantage and a strong track record in deployment of electric vehicles including investment in the required infrastructure.”

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