By Carly Fields
The Armitt Group has made what it describes as a “huge statement to the UK breakbulk business” with its investment in a new 120,000-square-foot multimodal terminal at Hutchison Port Holdings’ Thamesport facility.
Armitt handles breakbulk steel business moving through the Port of Liverpool, but is restricted there by the depth of water alongside, and operational restrictions placed upon Armitt by the port. Its investment in Thamesport addresses that issue, delivering a water depth of 15 meters, in addition to a 600-meter quay and crane capacity of 75 tonnes, and no ocean lock, meaning no beam restrictions.
Thamesport is a 200-acre site being redeveloped as a breakbulk facility, Nicholas Marshall, Armitt’s commercial director, told Breakbulk. As part of a 15-year agreement, Armitt will concentrate solely on breakbulk at Thamesport, leaving owner Hutchison to focus on its core business. “This is a bold investment for us and is 100-percent focused on breakbulk,” Marshall said.
With the first phase of the facility nearing completion, 60,000 square feet will be finished and operational in June. The second phase has already been started, which will increase the footprint by 20,000 square feet. Marshall expects that by the end of 2018, Armitt will have a 120,000 square feet facility in place.
Casting a Wide Net
When Armitt was looking for a facility, it considered a number of options around the UK, including Bristol and Southampton, but settled on Thamesport mainly because of its location and the opportunities that the rail facility will bring to the UK steel logistics industry.
“My view is it’s the right location,” Marshall said. “As it’s on the east coast, any cargo coming up through the Suez Canal will come past my front door. Virtually every ship that comes to the UK is going onwards to the Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam range in ballast. Even if the ships have come up and discharged steel on the west UK coast, they will go to Antwerp or Rotterdam to reload so I’ve just taken that repositioning cost out of a vessel owner’s budget.”
He added that Thamesport will be the closest deepwater breakbulk facility in the UK-to-northern European market. The group has plans to develop similar multimodal terminals in the UK Midlands and the northwest of the country by 2019.
He added that pure container facilities are unable to offer the same service to breakbulk cargoes as a dedicated multipurpose terminal can.
“They just can’t handle the breakbulk at a container facility. The speed, efficiency, logistics, experience, specialty – you just don’t get that at a container berth,” he said.
The group recently handled a project cargo of two 1,050-tonne ship unloaders with the HHL Tokyo, so is also focused on the decommissioning sector as a bright spot for project cargo going forward. “We see decommissioning as an opportunity; the market will be massive,” Marshall said.
Armitt has a number of divisions, including vessel agency and chartering, stevedoring, warehousing, automotive logistics, marine bunker supply, as well as its project forwarding division. It has handled steel shipments for more than 30 years and counts Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover and General Motors as clients.
Armitt has had a port terminal facility in Garston for a number of years, and has recently completed a long-term agreement with offshore energy fabrication specialist Hutchinson Engineering, who is completing its first project for MHI Vestas. This deal opens up a “world of opportunities” for Armitt’s agency, stevedoring and chartering desks, Marshall said.