Could car trade increases trigger further Humber port expansion?
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 20 Jan 2016
MORE roll-on, roll-off capacity could be required at the ports of Grimsby and Immingham, as automotive industry boss Mark Hindley outlined his growth projections for the area.
Land cost and availability, together with the central UK location, access from continental Europe and a strong workforce, give the area a huge tick when it comes to working in the growing market.
Mr Hindley, business development director at Paragon, a company that has just unveiled a state-of-the-art handling facility for Kia, as part of a £20 million long term deal, said: "Logistics are about trying to be efficient and one thing this area creates is efficiency. It is very good for bringing vessels in from the Far East, Germany and the continent. It is also very good for exporting vehicles out. That gives good flow.
Praising the quality of the labour pool, he said: "Paragon is 10 years old and we have been here for 10 years and a lot of people have been with us for 10 years."
He said the DFDS outer harbour facility, built outside the lock gates at Immingham - also 10 years old - was a key piece in the jigsaw.
"We have vehicles built in Korea coming in on very large vessels that can carry up to 7,000 cars. They are 250m long vessels that need a certain size of berth. The Port of Immingham has that capacity to discharge.
We also have cars built in Slovakia that come across from Germany on smaller ships. The great thing about Immingham is it can take both big and small vessels.
"Lead mileage, the average mileage to the dealer is important too, and this area is central. You can be in Scotland in a day, in the south in a day. In terms of delivering cars it is a really good location with great transport links, we are straight down the motorway, and it is not like we are dealing with congestion on the M25."
Having told how 2015 was a record year, with 2.63 million cars sold in the UK and no sign of the brakes being applied, Mr Hindley said: "What we see is growth here, over time. We will be putting more of our activity in this area because we find, looking at the logistics involved, it works."
Bristol is currently Paragon's top port with 400,000 cars of the one million handled across the group coming in there.
Simon Bird, ABP Humber's recently appointed director, headed up that operation for 15 years.
"We are talking to ABP, we have a good relationship with ABP, and we are talking about how we increase berth capacity to accommodate larger investments," Mr Hindley said.
"We need to go bigger again," he said, even after the recent addition of the £26 million Grimsby River Terminal.
"That will deal well with short sea, but it won't deal with deep sea. We couldn't put a Kia shipment there at the moment," Mr Hindley said.
"The situation at Immingham is that it works, we have the deep sea terminal with the outer harbour and the short sea vessels inside. If we want to accommodate growth we would be talking to ABP about both Grimsby and Immingham. It is more big investment if you want bigger river berths. The good news is, today, if we were to bring another customer in, we would have capacity, if we brought two in we wouldn't.
"I think steadily customers will move from the south to this area, and this is down to the efficiency, shipping and the cost of land. If we go to the Port of Southampton, the land cost is huge, you are within the city, and employment can be challenging. There is a great pool to tap into here."