Located in the Port of Tilbury, which is also owned by Forth Ports, TCS was previously jointly owned by the three organisations, each holding a one-third share, although the facility was managed by DP World.
Forth Ports plans to combine its own short-sea container terminal with that of TCS to create a new container business. This will be branded ‘London Container Terminal’ to reflect the service being provided and the location of the facility.
Perry Glading, chief operating officer at Forth Ports, told CM, “We will have a unique deep-sea and short-sea terminal on the [River] Thames with UK coastal feeder opportunities and will focus on the medium-sized vessels and niche short-sea services and how they integrate with deep-sea services.”
“We have just been given planning permission to develop a one million square feet distribution centre adjacent to Tilbury, which will appeal to the food and drink business for which TCS caters,” he added.
Integration of the adjoining terminals will start over the next few months. “An integration team is already in place and incorporation of the two facilities will take place during this year, which will initially include simple solutions such as establishing a single road transport gate,” Glading said.
He confirmed that Mike Gibson, employed by DP World, had relinquished his position as managing director of TCS. During the coming month Gibson will work with the new management team of Stuart Wallace, previously divisional director for Port of Tilbury, and Debbie Bartlett, Tilbury’s commercial and marketing director, who together will have responsibility for the integration, explained Glading.
Over time TCS has secured a significant trading position with North/South reefer trades, primarily South America and South Africa, along with other deep-sea services, and last year handled around 314,000 teu, up 2.4% on its 2010 volumes; Tilbury’s short-sea terminal, which provides regular links to continental Europe and other UK coastal feeder locations, handled around 126,000 teu in 2011, up 7.6% on 2010.
According to Forth Ports the coming together of the adjoining deep-sea and short-sea operations will mean that the combined facility will handle close to half a million teu annually, making it the third largest single container operation in the UK.
“This is an important acquisition and a major step forward in our plans to grow and develop our ports business. We believe that stronger links between our container and distribution customers will provide benefits in the supply chain through our London Distribution Park and further underpins our port-centric strategy,” said Charles Hammond, chief executive of Forth Ports.
For DP World, which is developing its own deep-sea London Gateway container facility down river on the Thames, Flemming Dalgaard, senior vice president and managing director, Europe & Russia said, “TCS will benefit from the consolidation of Forth’s Tilbury Port terminals and connections with its other short sea assets. The offer made good sense to us and the decision was taken in line with the changing market dynamics in the liner industry including the rapid escalation in vessel sizes”.