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Britain’s first major deep-sea port in over 20 years opened for business late last night, in a move that has the potential to deliver multi-million pounds of supply chain savings.
The London Gateway, which sits on the Essex side of the Thames just a few miles to the west of Canvey Island, is the creation of Dubai-based DP World, the third largest port operator in the world, which is investing over £2 billion in the operation. In the first of London Gateway’s six planned deep-water berths now sits the MOL Caledon, a South African container ship bearing its cargo of fruit and wine, which docked at 11pm on Wednesday evening.
Next door to the port is a logistics park that would be Europe’s largest when developed to its full 9 million square foot potential. Marks & Spencer has already announced it will create a new distribution centre at the park as part of an ambitious plan to reduce its 150 warehouses to just three.
Currently, importers route their deliveries through distribution centres in the Midlands. London Gateway hopes to win business away from its two main rivals, Felixstowe and Southampton, and attract the world’s largest container ships by offering quicker and cheaper UK distribution routes. It claims it can save ship operators £59 per container to the North West and the Midlands and £189 per container to London. This is disputed by Felixstowe, which claims to be able to undercut London Gateway by £26 per container.