The world’s largest cargo ships will once again call at Liverpool — and transport their goods more easily to northern England — when Peel Ports opens its new deep water container terminal on the Mersey later this year.
Supporting the government’s plans to create a Northern Powerhouse, the Liverpool 2 development will double the number of containers that the port can handle to 1.5m. This will help to cut transport costs for businesses shipping goods overseas or accessing the 35m consumers that Peel Ports estimates live within 150 miles of the port.
Alongside its £300m investment in Liverpool 2, which it expects will add £5bn to the local economy, Peel Ports is spending a further £100m to create a new biomass terminal to handle wood pellets for the Drax power station on the east coast. It is ploughing another £125m into a new logistics hub on the Manchester ship canal, the 36-mile waterway linking Manchester to the Irish Sea, which it also owns.
These plans form part of a grand “Ocean Gateway” strategy to regenerate northwest England, masterminded by John Whittaker, the company’s 73-year old chairman and majority owner. Whittaker spun out Peel Ports in 2006 from his Peel Group when RREEF Infrastructure — the investment arm of Deutsche Bank — bought a 49.9% stake.
Led by chief executive Mark Whitworth, 49, Peel Ports already handles more than 70m tons of cargo a year, as a landlord and operator of 19 ports and terminals sited in places such as Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast.
A shipping line division and marine services, such as ship repairs, also contributed to sales of £616.1m in the year to the end of March 2015. Operating profits rose 12% to £137.3m, the highest in the league table.
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