In late 2013, the London Gateway, the UK’s newest deep sea container port, received its first vessel. The new £1.5 billion development, which opened 7th November 2013, welcomed the MOL Caledon, a 58,000-tonne container ship, laden with fruit and wine from South Africa.
The launch of the Gateway is thought to offer a number of benefits to the supply chain and to logistics infrastructure. The port will combine various modes of transport with warehousing, manufacturing and distribution to offer the pinnacle of ‘PortCentric’ logistics.
Rather than relying on an inland facility, the port will house its own distribution centre, saving the need to for goods to be transported from deep-sea ports inland, thus decreasing freight miles. Goods will flow from London Gateway port to the logistics park where they will be distributed directly to retailers.
London Gateway will also have its own railway hub and 25-30 per cent of all freight will be transported out of the park by rail. The port is also working with London Southend Airport to provided businesses using London Gateway with the benefit of close proximity to a business-focused airport offering urgent airfreight delivery to Europe.
The inbuilt rail hub and links to the airport will present businesses with a faster, more reliable and greener way to transport goods when compared with existing supply chains. The port will allow global brands to benefit from significant supply chain savings and reduced transportation costs.
The significant infrastructure at the park will also result in the creation of 27,000 new jobs in London and the South East and contribute £2.4bn a year to its economy.
Of course, for many years, warehousing and fulfilment operations have traditionally been located in the Midlands. These locations provide the best balance in terms of proximity to key population densities, transport infrastructure and costs, availability and cost of land and availability and cost of labour.
Existing operations already successfully service not only the 16 million consumers in the South East, but also the 50+ million consumers in the rest of the UK. The London Gateway development offers brand owners, importers and retailers a huge opportunity to restructure their supply chains.
However, it is important that the industry does not forget the expertise which resides in the centre of the country, as it turns its attention to the shiny new port.