London Port Plans Billion Dollar Expansion

Tilbury container terminal, the principal port for London, plans to add a deep-sea jetty for ships from Europe and to increase the site’s size from 850 to 1,100 acres, in a £1bn project. Forth Ports will pay for the dock expansion, but nearly half of the investment at Tilbury is being made by tenants. The port was privatized in 1992.
The Amazon fulfilment centre on the site will triple employee numbers from 4,000 to 12,000 in the next decade. Speaking to the Financial Times, Charles Hammond, of Forth Ports, the owner of Tilbury, saw positives and negatives in the plan to expand before Brexit arrives. “If there are increased tariffs the pressure to generate increased efficiency in the supply chain will be even greater. There is a just-in-time distribution culture in the UK and no one wants to hold stock for more than a day,” he said.
Hammond hopes to raise cargo numbers to 32m tonnes by 2026 through demand for food, clothing and entertainment for London’s fast-growing population. Cargo carried at the port has increased 30% since 2009/10 and rose from 12.5m tonnes in 2015 to 13.5mt in 2016. “Trade flows will continue, even if patterns slightly change. The goods may stay in the ports a bit longer because of tariffs and customs procedures. But are we going to stop importing BMW cars from Europe? I don’t think so, because people will still want them,” Hammond said.