October/November 2018

Irish sea specialist harbours rapid growth

Long-established Manchester based Harbour International Freight has been branching out lately, says UK General Manager, Steve Swinburn.

Steve Swinburn, Harbour International Freight

“Having only joined the UK distribution Pall-Ex network two years ago, in February this year we won the network operators business development award which for a fairly new member is quite an achievement.”

Harbour International, which is based in Eccles, represents Manchester for the network and offers customers of its Irish Sea services a collection and delivery service all over the UK. In effect a one-stop shop for all UK and Ireland. The company’s turnover has surged from £900,000 five years ago to no less than £4.5m now. Harbour’s Irish business has been growing too, in February this year it bought out fellow North-West based Irish Sea specialist European Cargo Systems, closing its Heywood depot and concentrating all business in Eccles. Steve commented: “ECS was very focused on the Northwest and Yorkshire, and it increased our Irish business by around 35%. The integration was extremely smooth due to the many similarities between the two companies, and in addition to taking on key members of staff, we have managed to retain 95% of all ECS customers which is fantastic and a testament to everyone’s efforts and teamwork.

“Our Irish Sea business is now averaging eight trailers a night to Dublin which acts as its Hub for the Republic of Ireland. Our Dublin head office operate some 16 depots around the country, and includes express overnight services to our depot in Craigavon, allowing next day timed sensitive deliveries throughout Northern Ireland for a major auto part manufacturer.

“Links between Greater Manchester and Ireland are strong, and our customers include anyone from one-man bands to major multinationals alongside multinational carriers and freight forwarders who subcontract their Irish work to us. We now have a strong domestic business in the UK through Pall-Ex, answering a potential issue if Irish traffic does reduce through the uncertainly of Brexit. However, if that happens we will be well-placed to explore the idea of setting up a customs clearance department again alongside customs bonding. Ironically the company’s first activity was handling customs clearance in the North-West and Ireland but that was back in the 1970’s and customs clearance hasn’t been required for Ireland since 1992.”