Felixstowe port trade and profits down
PROFITS and cargo were both down at Hutchison Whampoa's British ports – which include Felixstowe – last year.The news was no surprise in a year in which the shipping industry worldwide suffered a downturn in its fortunes with almost all ports losing business.
By Richard Cornwell
PROFITS and cargo were both down at Hutchison Whampoa's British ports – which include Felixstowe – last year.
The news was no surprise in a year in which the shipping industry worldwide suffered a downturn in its fortunes with almost all ports losing business.
Experts have mixed views on when the situation will improve, with most agreeing that it will not be until late this year or early next.
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The port of Felixstowe has already been hit by the difficult time and was forced to announce last summer that more than 50 redundancies were being made.
Those losses were among managerial, supervisory and administrative areas of the company, with the aim to cut the cost of its 2,500-strong workforce.
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Results from last year though show that the group's three UK ports – Felixstowe, Thamesport and Harwich – all suffered.
While details are not given specifically for each port, the company said throughput at the terminals was down by five per cent, while earnings before interest and taxation fell by 25 per cent.
There had been some improvement in the second half of 2001 as the first six months of that year had shown a drop in cargo of 10pc.
"A restructuring exercise has commenced to improve the performance of these terminals," said Li Kai-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa.
There are also plans to expand both Felixstowe and Harwich. The company is waiting for the outcome of negotiations over a proposed Harbour Revision Order to be able to build new berths at Felixstowe, though an inquiry may be needed to settle remaining objections.
At Harwich, it is planned to spend £500 million on a new container terminal by developing the Bathside Bay site.
Worldwide, Hutchison Whampoa spent £1 billion on expanding its port operations last year, and handled 27 million standard-sized containers at its 169 berths at 30 harbours in 15 countries.
However, the group, whose interests include telecommunications, retail and other industries, suffered a 65pc fall in profits to £1.6 billion US dollars compared to previous year.