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Cardiff thinks in – and out – of the box 20

Liquid bulks dominate Cardiff’s tonnage figures, with around a million tonnes of transport and heating fuels handled at three major terminals, with steel second – much of it imported for the construction industry – but the port also hosts Wales’ only regular container services. Cardiff Container Line (CCL) operates three sailings a week to Warrenpoint and Dublin, using a 200teu ship, and there are also regular weekly calls by Borchard Line’s 1,000teu vessels to and from the Med. CCL filled a niche for Cardiff

aſter Peel Ports-owned Coastal withdrew its service from Cardiff

and concentrated everything on Liverpool. The service has potential to grow. In the initial stages, that could be in the form of larger vessels – Cardiff could comfortably handle vessel five times those currently operated by CCL. In the longer term, Cardiff could

reasonably hope to attract short- sea feeder container services to the main continental ports like Antwerp or Rotterdam. Like many South Wales ports,

Cardiff has its niches too, including leading cat litter and pet supplies firm Bob Martin, which operates a big distribution terminal on the port.

The import leg of the CCL

service brings in large amounts of peat while steel features heavily westbound to Ireland. ABP itself

has invested in a fleet of specialised steel cassettes. ABP also invested in containers for the service, so as to be able to offer a door-to-door

service to customers, as well as a few trucks. Other traffics are fresh fruit and

veg, fish and fruit juices through a common-user terminal, while timber is another big feature. Port centric activity is also

important at Cardiff, which is as much a distribution hub as it is a port; quite a large proportion of its trade enters or leaves by rail or road rather than by sea. For instance, Turkish firm HDM Tubes operates a factory on the dockside that cuts up imported steel coils and reprofiles them into girders and sections for the building trade. There is also a big regional distribution centre for a

major DIY chain. Other activities that go above

and beyond normal port handling activity include fridge recycling – the current facility is being updated so that it can free refrigerant gases and sort metals. ABP is also due to complete an

extension to its I shed thus year. Equipped with an overhead gantry crane, it will be used to store long steel products. One thing all the South Wales

ports have in abundance is land, an increasingly rare commodity at ports in the rest of the UK, especially in combination with deep water and rail access.

New look for Rhys Davies Forwarding

South Wales-based Rhys Davies effectively rebooted its forwarding business last year, and is now looking for growth again, explains commercial manager, Gary Philips. With a number of key staff retiring, the business is now being run by commercial manager, Gary Phillips, who joins the forwarding arm from Rhys Davies’ UK logistics business. “It’s been a great learning-

curve and we’re now in a position where we can start to grow again,” he enthuses. “Historically, the forwarding business has benefited from its links to the Rhys Davies

UK logistics operation and we will initially be targeting customers who use the logistics service but not our forwarding arm, as well as other new customers.” Rhys Davies is unusual in that

it offers both a domestic logistics service and a forwarding arm, one of only a handful of UK firms that currently do so. As a general forwarder, there is virtually nothing it cannot handle and recent jobs have included mammoths to a museum in Norway, road sweepers to Dubai and steam locomotives. It can also move airfreight. Any growth will need to be

achieved against the background of a fall-off in the UK forwarding market, so it will be a matter of recruiting new customers as well as adding new ones, particularly in the chemical and food ingredients markets, where Rhys Davies Forwarding is a market leader. Coming from the UK domestic

logistics industry to forwarding has been a bit of an eye-opener, Gary Philips continues. “The UK business is all about 24- hour delivery, or even quicker, and quotes are pretty much instantaneous.” But in forwarding it can take a couple of days just to get

Holyhead sees double

Recovery in the Irish market is making Holyhead a busy place, says port manager, Wyn Parry – so much so that the Stena Ports- owned gateway is considering road improvements. The Welsh government’s recent freight report highlighted the scheme to rebuild the ‘Import Road’ to help improve links between the port’s ro ro berths and the main A55 Expressway, the main east-west road between North- West England to Holyhead and, indeed, Ireland. Wyn Parry explains: The

challenge we have is that the Expressway terminates in Holyhead about half a mile short of the port entrance, and it comes down from dual to single carriageway. If we have two large ro-pax shops discharging at the same time, there can be queues.” The scheme was included in a

master planning exercise in 2013 and the Welsh Government’s

report has importance. Now it Other schemes

confirmed its is

just a

question of finding the money to do it.

though are

nearing completion. A new truckstop three quarters of a mile from the port at the Parc Cybi estate should open in October, offering space for 150 vehicles plus fuelling, washing and driver amenities. It’s a joint investment between developers Conygar and Fred Done, owner of the Betfred bookies chain. Apparently, Fred Done acquired a truckstop by chance and found that it was such a good investment that he is now planning a chain of them. As in many parts of the UK,

truck parking has been a problem in and around Holyhead, with drivers forced to use lay bys and other unsuitable sites to observe their statutory rest periods. Conygar


an adjacent warehousing site at Parc Cybi. Planning permission has been obtained and all the infrastructure is in place and all it needs now is for a customer to sign on the dotted line. There are several big developments in the area, including a new Wylfa power station, about 15 miles up the road in north Anglesey, offshore wind and a scheme to transform the former aluminium plant in Holyhead into a biomass power station – all of which could be potential users of Parc Cybi. Anglsey Aluminium used to be a major user of Holyhead and the jetties are still available. Meanwhile, business on Stena

also developing

and Irish Ferries ro pax ferries to Dublin is brisk, says Wyn Parry. “It’s a better market than it was than a few months ago, and we have a lot of capacity for future growth. Last year the Irish market was up 8% and we’re looking at something similar this year.”

quotes back, but Gary Philips says he is “challenging this time scale”. Significantly, one of the largest

forwarding customers recently regained moved back because of Rhys Davies’ quick response levels. A new IT system is also being introduced and is due to go into operation in July or August – the old typewriters used to prepare bills of lading are finally being thrown away. An extra member of staff has

been recruited and a start has been made on developing and growing the business. The company has already exhibited at the Foodex show in Birmingham – food products are one of Rhys Davies Forwarding’s specialities – and the company has been accredited by the British Retail Consortium. Major existing customers of

the forwarding business include a paper importer, for whom Rhys Davies brings in paper from the US, warehouses it and distributes it all over the UK and Europe using the resources of Rhys Davies Logistics. The latter can offer a total logistics

service through its network of ten distribution centres covering the whole of the UK from the south coast of England to Scotland. Another is a distributor of

refrigerant gases, for whom Rhys Davies handles import and export of 20-foot tank containers. There is in fact quite a diverse

range of businesses and one of the company’s strengths as a forwarder is that it has never put all its eggs in one basket, Phillips believes. It also helps that some of its business has been in areas like food and office supplies for which demand has always been reasonably constant. Catering to the needs of

smaller firms is another strength. “We’re strong on helping smaller

businesses with no available forwarding expertise or available staff or who are completely new to importing or exporting,” Phillips explains. Rhys Davies Forwarding offers in essence a consultancy service to businesses new to international trade. “They need someone who they can trust, and who can give them total guidance.” He hastens to add that,

although Rhys Davies is proud of its Welsh roots, its business is emphatically no longer confined to Wales. Customers for the forwarding business are all over the UK, as far afield as Cornwall or the Isle of Wight and there are probably more now in the Midlands than in Wales itself.

South Wales ports: England’s best-kept secret? Welsh patriotism is all very

well, but in the shipping business it pays to cast your horizons a little wider. There is a perception that South Wales ports

are there primarily to

serve the heavy industry of the region – or whatever is left of its – such as steel or coal. But Newport and Cardiff’ do a lot

of business with the Midlands. The former is in fact closer on most counts than anywhere on the south and east coasts of England and Newport is already an integral part of the Midlands economy. “We are, in a way, one of the

country’s best-kept secret,” says ABP South Wales director,

Matthew Kennerley. “There is something of a myth to dispell – our hinterland is wider than just the M4 with excellent road networks to the Midlands. ” The Welsh Government, too,

is very keen to promote Welsh ports as freight hubs and to make them attractive places in which to do business.

Issue 5 2014 - Freight Business Journal


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