Sunderland port supply firm is shipshape through the economic storm

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A LONG-running family firm is shipshape after reporting a bumper year of sales at a Wearside port.

Ninety-one-year-old Gibbons International has seen turnover soar since bosses at the Port of Sunderland started work on attracting new firms to the site.

The company, which last year saw sales increase by more than 35 per cent to £2.5million, is expected to maintain its strong performance.

Ian Gibbons, chief executive of the company and the third generation of his family to take the reins, said that the upsurge had been a boost.

He also praised the leadership team at the port for their hard work in growing its reputation among firms in the new and renewables sector, particularly offshore wind companies.

“Five or six years ago, seeing large cargo ships stopping off at the port would have been something of a novelty,” he said.

“Nowadays, we’re seeing an increasing number of marine vessels stopping off at Corporation Quay and this has meant that ad-hoc orders have significantly increased.

“Within the last year, our business has seen the biggest supply order in its history and we’ve been able to really see off the competition.

“We’re now the only shipping chandler in the North East with no competitors anywhere north of Hull.”

The business, which employs a 14-strong team, supplies food, hardware and duty-free products to shipping vessels in the North East as well as Aberdeen and the South coast.

Mr Gibbons said work by multinational offshore exploration company Subsea Seven to demobilise its large cable and pipe laying vessels at the port has helped his firm secure major orders.

“There really is a feeling of genuine change at the port, and that can only be positive for a business like ours,” he added.

The Team Oman, a cable installation vessel available for use in the offshore wind industry, is one of the recent visitors to the port, which is hoping to capitalise on its natural assets and location for the Round Three Offshore Wind Development Zones.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council and chairman of Port of Sunderland, said: “Sunderland is fast growing its reputation as a leading port of call, both for shipping services and new and renewable energy.

“The work we are undertaking to attract business to the port is heralding real results for us and the companies based here.

“I’m delighted that this is having such a positive impact for Gibbons International.”

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