Liverpool2 port ready to ease retailer concerns as supply chain blockage continues

Peel Ports, the UK ports and terminals operator, has said its Liverpool2 deep-water container terminal is ready to help clear the growing backlog of imported goods into the country caused by IT implementation problems in Felixstowe.

October is typically when retailers prepare stock levels for the Christmas rush, with the sector also gearing up for Black Friday on November 23. Felixstowe, the largest shipping terminal in the UK, has suffered serious backlogs in cargo loading and unloading since June, after an unsuccessful roll-out of a new IT system that shows little sign of improvement. Incoming vessels can currently be waiting at anchor offshore for six days.

While some shipping operators have diverted cargos to other south-east terminals – Southampton and London Gateway – these are also feeling the impact caused by delays at Felixstowe. The backlog is now reportedly causing a knock-on impact on European carriers and terminals.

Liverpool2 was a £400 million investment by Peel Ports to create a deep-water container terminal capable of handling all vessels in the global fleet. It currently has:

  • 70% yard capacity to support incoming containers;
  • Berth capacity and no queuing for incoming vessels;
  • Fast haulier turnaround time – averaging 42 minutes;
  • Low dwell times for containers;
  • Strong haulier network to service business in the north;
  • North- and south-bound rail connectivity

Haulage congestion – and subsequent premiums being levied by road transport firms – has added to the difficulties caused by the Felixstowe IT failure. Booking a haulage slot can currently take two weeks in Felixstowe and Southampton. During this time, containers have to remain on the port, where they are incurring rent charges.

However, approximately 60% of containers which enter UK ports are destined for the West Midlands or further north, making Liverpool a more efficient port of entry – it would also remove an estimated one million trucks from the road each year, and more than 1600 freight trains from the rail network, reducing related diesel emissions.

In addition, 35 million people in the UK and Ireland – more than half of the total population – live closer to Liverpool than south-east container ports.

Major shipping lines MSC and Maersk are already using Liverpool2 for UK containerised cargo and the Port of Liverpool has experienced an 8.7% year-to-date growth in all containerised traffic.

Mark Whitworth, chief executive of Peel Ports, said:

“The arduous situation in the UK retail sector is well-documented. The last thing it needs is to be unnecessarily hobbled by a logistics crisis with no end in sight. This is an avoidable situation and we would urge shipping lines, forwarders and cargo owners, to talk to us about how we can get their cargo moving again rather than having to face a delay that shows no sign of abating.

“Peel Ports is ready to welcome cargo destined for the UK as well as shipments bound for international destinations from the UK, and we have ample capacity to do so. Liverpool2 was developed specifically for large deep-water cargo vessels. With a growing proportion of the UK’s logistics and warehousing facilities based in the North and the Midlands, there are multiple benefits to containers arriving in Liverpool.”

A number of prominent businesses have added their support to Liverpool2 as an arrival point for international imports, including:

- Logiport (freight procurement) :“Where it’s operationally beneficial, Logiport will move cargo into the Port of Liverpool. We have been using the port for some of our customers and have been pleased with the cost and time efficiencies – Liverpool2 deep-water container terminal offers us a viable alternative option especially for containers into the northern region.” Nick Kay, Managing Director.

-  Einhell UK: “Einhell transferred all containers from southern ports to the Port of Liverpool earlier this year, holding our stock inside a third-party logistics warehouse inside the Port has significantly reduced our shunting costs to only 12% of the previous cost of shunting containers from Southampton. The flow of stock from quayside to warehouse is also much more efficient and we can now have stock available for picking the day after it arrives in the port compared to the previous best case of four days receiving stock in from the usually heavily congested ports in the south. This in turn means that we have shorter lead times servicing customers such as Amazon, Argos, Toolstation, Machinemart and Homebase. For greater efficiency both in terms of both cost saving and supply chain it makes perfect sense to make full use the facilities now available in the Port of Liverpool.” Tom Chambers, Managing Director, Einhell UK.

- Mersey Forwarding: “The logistics business says the situation is not sustainable for its customers; haulage booking availability can be in excess of 14 days for Felixstowe and Southampton, with the port charging cargo owners rent for containers that remain on the quay in the meantime.” Dave Hoban, Operations Director.

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