BUSINESS at the Port of Sunderland almost doubled in the last financial year, say bosses.
Traffic into the port’s docks increased by about 84 per cent between April 1, 2011, and March 31 this year, with 450 commercial vessels arriving, compared to 245 during the previous year.
Port director Matthew Hunt said the increase in business was the result of a growth plan that focused on making the most of what the port could offer.
“Two years ago, we took a step back, and looked at the port and what the opportunities were for growth,” he said.
“We put time and resource into targeting markets that we believed would generate returns, working to understand the commercial opportunities that existed in each, and developing a clear picture of what would be attractive about Sunderland to each of these markets.
“Sunderland enjoys some fantastic natural assets and is making the most of them, but teaming this with exceptional service has been fundamental to the progress we have made at the port.
“This really is just the start for us, and we are confident that we can build upon the success we have seen to date and continue to establish the city as the first port of call for businesses across the country and further afield.”
The Echo reported last month that hundreds of Nissan cars had been shipped out of the port for the first time in 26 years – Nissan usually exports vehicles from its Wearside factory through the Port of Tyne in South Tyneside.
A spokeswoman for Nissan confirmed the car giant was running a trial of exports from the port.
“The Nissan plant in Sunderland is a major success story both for the city and the region and we have recently carried out a trial cargo of export vehicles,” said Mr Hunt.
“We will find out details of the trial at a later date.”
City council leader Paul Watson, also chairman of the Port of Sunderland board, said: “The launch of the Sunderland Economic Masterplan in October 2010 set out our ambition to grow the port, and establish the city as a hub for offshore renewable energy and subsea engineering,” he said.
“Almost two years on, and the strategy put in place by our management team is really starting to herald results. Sunderland is growing its reputation as a flexible, forward-thinking port, and one that can work with its customers to meet their needs efficiently – and the increased activity we are seeing is a vote of confidence in what we do.”