Birlea Furniture’s visit to the port of Britain

Kirk and I currently have seven years of experience between us in importing and pride ourselves on being efficient and proactive. We felt this visit would benefit us and give us greater insight into the world of importing and kindly, with the help of our freight forwarder, this trip was arranged.

We currently average around 42 HC per month into our 110,000 sq ft warehouse based at East Midlands Distribution Centre. For us to handle this volume and more, we must make sure we keep developing our knowledge and this visit shows we are actively looking to implement new systems and procedures, enabling us to bring our products to the UK Market.

Felixstowe known as “The port of Britain” is the UK’s largest port handling around 4 million TEU per year – I heard this figure and immediately thought to myself “this port means business”, it’s by far a clear market leader.

On arrival at the port we were greeted by Paul Brooks, the port’s development manager who knows the port inside out and literally left no stone unturned – this wealth of knowledge was extremely valuable to us. The information was fascinating and the facts underline what a massive impact Felixstowe plays in both the UK economy and for Birlea.

To mention a few:

The port is twice as big as its nearest competitor.

It has a storage capacity of up to 114,000 containers.

It can accommodate 9 vessels at once, some of these being the world’s largest.

There are unrivalled rail connections to the Midlands where Birlea are based.

There is the flexibility of using approximately 30 different shipping lines that operate from the port.

If the above wasn’t a big enough statement of intent, the port is currently in the first phase of the new developments of berths 8 and 9. Once complete these will strengthen Felixstowe’s position further.

They have also built the A14 dual carriageway and linked it up with M1 and M6, and completed terminal extensions and rail extensions – all allowing us quicker access to our imports which highlights why we are ideally located for our import and distribution needs.

During our port visit it became clear the imports market has an essential part to play in the development of the UK economy. As Birlea continues to grow year on year by expanding our range of products and growing our customer base, we are lucky and privileged enough to have such an effective transportation network in the UK to help us do this. Without ports such as Felixstowe, Southampton or the newly established London Gateway it would be difficult to imagine Birlea having been able to grow as quickly as we are doing now.

During our guided tour I was astonished at how many vehicles were driving around collecting and dropping off containers – over 3600 vehicles enter the port gates every week – and whilst driving around the port it reminded me of a well organized chaos!

To conclude, this port visit was a real eye opener, not only for our business, and how beneficial it is to us, but to the UK as a whole. I found it fascinating how dependent to the UK ports and freight forwarders are to enable businesses to grow. Without these, where would we be today?

We would like to thank our freight forwarders and the port of Felixstowe for organising this extremely valuable trip.

Thanks,

Kirk Adamson and Mitch Handley