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Carriers seeking to avoid congestion across North European ports helped spur the UK’s London Gateway to a record performance, as it handled more than 1m teu in the first half of the year.
Surpassing the million teu mark for the first time, Gateway reported a 10% increase in volumes as it bettered its previous half-year performance to continue a pattern of surging growth – having recorded a 15% upturn for full-year 2021 after 23% growth in H1 21.
UK CEO of DP World Ernst Schulze said: “This record performance illustrates our capacity to expand customer choice by introducing new sailings, while continually improving our capability to deliver first-class services.
“We expect our UK business to continue to grow, fuelled by our rapidly expanding port-centric logistics park, one of the biggest facilities of its kind in Europe.”
Gateway’s success exceeded that of the DP World group which, while growing, climbed just 2.7% year on year, compared with the marked spike experienced in its London operation.
Mr Schulze pointed to a “new international service” as one driver of growth, believed to be a reference to the IEX service, linking east India and the UK, but one source suggested some of its success could be attributed to difficulties faced by other ports this year.
The source told The Loadstar: “I think Gateway was able to benefit from carriers skipping other, more congested ports where numbers were down, but it’s also significant Gateway is now bigger in terms of throughput than its sister port at Southampton.”
Mr Schulze noted operating the two UK ports meant it could offer “unrivalled flexibility” and choice to customers, allowing volumes to be switched easily between the two locations.
He added: “It gives customers more control over their supply chains and increasing security of supply for critical goods coming into the UK, no other logistics business can offer this level of flexibility and certainty.”
Combined, the London port and Southampton – the UK’s second-largest container terminal – handled more than 1.9m teu, setting a new UK record for the group.
Expectation is these numbers will climb, with the source pointing to the port’s pending fourth berth – a £300m investment announced last year and due to become operational in two years – which is expected to increase capacity by a third.
The source added: “The new berth will give them something to sell, and I imagine DP World is already in talks with prospects on this front.”
Group chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said that, over the past decade, DP World had invested some £2bn in the UK, with Gateway one of the country’s largest privately funded investment projects of the last 30 years.
“Over the next 10 years, around £1bn of further investment has been earmarked for the UK, making it our largest investment outside the Middle East,” he added.