ABP & Timber: a sustainable approach to growth in 2024

Associated British Ports (ABP) is the UK’s leading ports group, with 21 ports creating a unique national network that is responsible for handling 90 million tonnes of cargo and plenty of timber.

The port of King’s Lynn, owned and operated by ABP continues to emerge as a powerhouse in the timber trade, showcasing impressive growth and a commitment to sustainability.

Despite the challenges posed by a volatile market, the port of King’s Lynn has witnessed remarkable growth in its timber and wood products business.

June 2023 marked the second busiest month on record for timber handling at ABP, and this growth builds upon the success of 2021, a record-breaking year for high timber handling volumes.

Timber trade growth amidst challenges

Many timber customers at the port of King’s Lynn support the construction and home development industries.

Whilst the past 12 months have been challenging for most businesses with the raise of fuel costs and other geopolitical forces, these sectors have proved very resilient over the past year.

While the majority of timber volumes at the port of King’s Lynn are traditionally sourced from Scandinavian countries, ABP has seen a notable increase in volumes from Latvia, reflecting a diversification of timber sources.

This expansion in sourcing contributes to the port’s ability to adapt to changing market dynamics.

Key timber customers at the Port of King’s Lynn

ABP’s commitment to efficient timber handling is evident in its diverse customer base.

Major customers such as Setra Group, Travis Perkins, and Metsä Group rely on the port of King’s Lynn for its strategic location, proximity to local markets, and the ability to handle various timber products efficiently.

Setra Group, a leading Swedish wood industry company, values the port’s location and its contribution to transforming raw materials into climate-friendly, value-added products.

Travis Perkins benefits from ABP’s support in discharging and storing timber on-site, ensuring flexibility and timely delivery.

Metsä Group has been importing timber into the port of King’s Lynn for a very long time, is investing in growth, developing bioproducts and a fossil-free future, which aligns closely with ABP’s commitment to sustainability.

New long-term partnerships

ABP recently secured a new long-term contract with the Landguard Point Group – one of the leading UK timber importers, specialising in quality softwoods.

The new partnership strengthens the port’s position as one of the leading timber-handling ports in the UK. Leveraging the port’s existing capabilities in supporting the timber trade this collaboration will help to support future growth ambitions within the industry.

ABP has demonstrated its commitment to strengthen the port’s capabilities in this industry, and for its customer, through having recently invested £3million toward the development of 4.5 acres of hard standing and the implementation of a new Terminal Operating System (TOS) – CommTrac v4, which will improve their ability to run UK distribution and streamlining the process.

Paul Ager, divisional port manager, for ABP said: “2023 has been another busy year for timber at the Port of King’s Lynn, having exceeded 180,000 cubic metres so far this year, and with June being the port’s busiest month on record for timber handling at ABP.

“The team at the port of King’s Lynn rehandle on average 2,500 cubic metres of timber onto customer transport each week to go directly to their customers.

“In whatever size and packaging forest products arrive at the port, we have the expertise and equipment to handle them efficiently.”

Ashley Brown, general manager (Bury St Edmunds), Landguard Point Group said: “We’re pleased to have established a long-term partnership with the Port of King’s Lynn, which has proven track-record as an efficient timber-distribution terminal.

“It is also the port’s strategic location and proximity to local markets, which enables us to provide cost-effective and timely delivery of the best possible service and products to our customers.”

The deal sees Landguard Point Group strengthen its relationship with ABP as they also operate out of their Cardiff port.

Outlook for 2024 and beyond

ABP remains cautiously optimistic about the timber trade’s future. ABP’s dedication to sustainability is emphasised through its ‘Ready for Tomorrow’ sustainability strategy, which outlines plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations by 2040 at the latest and highlights how it is future-proofing its business.

Furthermore, ABP’s ongoing investments in timber-handling facilities are helping to streamline operations, ensuring efficient timber distribution, and further helping to meet the demands of customers both today, tomorrow and into the future.

More at www.abports.co.uk

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