DP World plans further investment in UK market


Dubai-based port operator DP World are considering further investments in the UK market, off the back of the success of both London Gateway and its container terminal facility in Southampton.

Speaking to the Telegraph, DP World chairman, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said that the company is always closely monitoring the situation in the UK, and “if there is a location in the UK that our customers want, we will be there.”

Opened in November last year, London Gateway proved to be one of the largest port projects the UK has ever seen, taking over a decade to complete at a cost of £1.5 billion.

DP World managed to inherit the project after the successful acquisition of P&O ports in 2005, and whilst located in the UK capital, is 80 percent owned by Dubai’s government.

With 2,700 metres of quay, six deep-water berths and 24 gigantic quay cranes, the site was developed to cope with ultra-massive 18,000 TEU vessels from the offset.

Whilst the site has the space to handle up to 3.5 million TEU per annum, and is expected to produce around 27,000 jobs in London and the South East, it has had quite a slow start.

As the atrocious weather that battered UK coastlines began to subside, so too, did the newfound traffic found to seek shelter at the River Thames terminal. The port is currently handling just three vessels per week after signing up six major customers.

Nevertheless, success has been seen elsewhere; Marks and Spencer has already agreed to open its third major national distribution centre at the Gateway.

Furthermore, success seems certain at DP World Southampton, with the opening earlier this week of its new 500-metre quay.

The new berth, at a cost of £100 million, called SCT5 is also pre-developed with size in mind; the quay is dotted with four Liebherr super post-Panamx cranes, capable of reaching across 24 containers, whilst the new bay has a depth of 16 metres. This depth can be increased to 17-metres, should vessel size increase in the near future.

What we find then, is a business investing, after what has been a tough economic year for all members of the maritime industry. The global slowdown in trade across Asian/European channels meant that DP World experienced loses of 1.5 percent after cargo volume fell 3.8 percent.

Profits, including separately disclosed items mainly related to the sale of ports in Hong Kong, meant that profits fell 13.4 percent to US$640 million in 2013.

Yet 2014 seems to be alleviating this: already, the company expects a five percent increase in container traffic. Furthermore, DP World seems to be following suit by aggressively developing its business in Africa, a region starting to accelerate in the global trade markets.

The plans to expand then do not seem localised to the UK, but rather, the world.

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