Jotun, the world’s largest producer of marine paints, is being hit hard by the coronavirus in China.

The spread of the disease has almost halted all production in the country.

Jotun has 1,600 employees in the country at two plants, one in Zhangjiang in the Jiangsu province and one in Qingdao.

CEO Morten Fon said the company has followed the country’s restrictions and has closed its offices and plants in the country.

Since China rang the alarm bell, there have hardly been any deliveries of products from there, Fon added.

Production in China is now set to commence again in a few days time.

In spite of the setbacks in the country, the future appears bright for the paint producer.

It logged an almost 87% increase in pre-tax profits last year to NOK 2.079bn ($231m).

Revenue increased from NOK 17.7bn in 2018 to NOK 20bn last year.

This is the best result ever for Jotun.

The ship paint division has had some moderate years due to reduced shipbuilding activity, but in South Korea the activity on the yard side increased by 40% last year and the growth in the rig market is almost as big.

Fon said that Jotun is also grabbing market share.

The company said: “Sales in the shipbuilding and offshore industries continue to grow after a length period of challenging market conditions”.

Fon expects the company to maintain the same operating margin of almost 12% in 2020 as in 2019.

Sandefjord-based Jotun was founded by Odd Gleditsch Sr in 1926. It now has about 10,000 employees and is represented in more than 100 countries.

The Gleditsch family still controls 54% of the shares, while the industrial conglomerate Orkla holds 43%.

The board of privately owned Jotun has proposed a NOK 500m dividend for the shareholders for 2019.