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Connecting UK Businesses with Continental Europe by Sea: An Interview with Andrew Byrne, UK Managing Director at DFDS Seaways

2:12 pm, Monday, 1st July 2019 - 5 years ago

Andrew Byrne explains how South Humber connects the rest of the UK with continental Europe, and how regular sea crossings mean goods can be delivered quickly when speed and reliability are essential.

DFDS Seaways operates regular sea freight services from Immingham to mainland Europe. The company is a key player within South Humber’s highly developed ports and logistics cluster.

What is the scale of DFDS operations out of South Humber?

DFDS runs 35 arrivals and 35 departures per week from Immingham carrying mixed cargo on Ro-Ro ferries to 5 key destinations: Rotterdam (Netherlands), Cuxhaven (Germany), Esjberg (Denmark), Brevik (Norway) and Gothenburg (Sweden).

“We employ 600 people and move 475,000 units a year plus 250,000 new cars” says Andrew. “We also provide Terminal services for Eimskip, which brings in containers of fish from Iceland for processing in Grimsby.”

“Our site is 160 acres and we have 64,000 sq. ft. of warehousing where we store a range of cargoes. Two of the terminals are rail linked so cargo can be moved on by rail as well as by road. Project cargo is a key capability. Last year, for example, we chartered a vessel and loaded and delivered propellers and motors for offshore wind turbines.”

What are Immingham’s advantages over other UK ports?

Immingham is a well-located port with spare capacity and excellent infrastructure.

“South Humber is in the middle of the country, making it well located for dispersion of cargo to the rest of the UK, and the road network is excellent with quick linkages into the motorway network. 75% of UK Manufacturing and 44 million people are accessible within a 4 hour drive of Immingham and the roads are also largely uncongested, unlike those around the other ports,” Andrew says. ”Immingham is the largest port in the UK by tonnage – 55 million tonnes a year pass through the port – but there is still plenty of capacity for growth. There is, for example, spare rail capacity at the port while many ports, such as Felixstowe, are full to capacity.”

What connectivity benefits do DFDS services bring to the area for Food processing companies?

Speed is of the essence when it comes to food manufacturing and DFDS ensures products reach their destinations quickly and in good condition.

“Immingham is a very short distance from Grimsby and many of the food and packaging manufacturers there use our services. Quick delivery is essential in the food business and goods arriving at the port at 8am can be on the production line in Grimsby by 11am. There are plug-in points for 300 refrigerated units on the dockside and many of these are used by units travelling with DFDS,” Andrew explains.

“Starbucks is just one food sector DFDS customer that relies on our quick service. They roast all of the beans for their cafes across Europe in two places, one being Amsterdam. All the coffee for the UK comes across via DFDS services to Immingham and is then moved onwards to the distribution warehouse in Milton Keynes. The lorries are then filled with paper cups and travel back to Amsterdam via Immingham.”

And for manufacturing companies?

Andrew explains the importance to manufacturers of a fast service: “At Immingham, components and raw materials can be out of the gate 45 minutes after the ship arrives. This is essential for companies who keep low stock and rely on ‘just in time’ delivery. We move significant quantities of components for the automotive industry. Parts can leave the factory in Germany on Monday morning and be on the production line at Jaguar Land Rover in the Midlands by Tuesday evening.”

“Businesses such as Vauxhall and Jaguar Land Rover use DFDS to export cars from Immingham to mainland Europe, and BMW and Volvo uses DFDS to bring cars to the UK from Germany for onward export.”

What are the advantages to DFDS of operating services out of South Humber?

“Immingham is a really well-developed and ambitious port spending a lot of money on technology. And there is a well-established, mature industry in the area which includes port services, logistics and haulier services. DFDS has been able to expand in the area and the infrastructure has also grown significantly,” Andrew says.

“Because there is a thriving port industry in Immingham, and in the other Humber ports, recruiting people with the appropriate skills is easier than in other places. Labour costs are reasonable too, particularly when compared to the London ports. There are good colleges in the area and we are in the early stages of setting up partnerships with them to develop our apprenticeship scheme.”

How does the South Humber ports and logistics cluster add value for companies that need to move goods?

“Because the cluster is so well established there are mature relationships between companies and we work together to help out where necessary. If there is a big project or a crisis people pull together to make sure the job gets done. This includes ports, logistics companies and hauliers,” Andrew says.