MacIntyre Transport, which is part of the Turners (Soham) Group, has been forced to make 15 HGV drivers redundant at its Knowsley depot due to a fall in the volume of container work with client MSC Shipping.

The company, which offers container haulage and logistics services from all UK ports and major railheads, has operating licences for a fleet of 341 trucks and 341 trailers, which are located across three depots at Felixstowe, Harworth and Knowsley. The Knowsley depot operates around 70 trucks and 70 trailers from its site.

Parent company Turners (Soham) said this week that the job cuts at the Knowsley depot are due to client MSC Shipping experiencing a fall in the volume of containers at the Port of Liverpool.

Turners (Soham) MD Paul Day told MT: “It is a result of a significant reduction in work – MSC have their own fleet and this fleet is utilised first, followed by the various subcontractors MSC use.

“Unfortunately there isn’t a sufficient volume of containers to utilise the 15 drivers – Macintyre haven’t lost any contract, it’s [a result of] the reduction in overall volume.”

Drivers at the Knowsley depot said news of the redundancies came without any warning. One told MT: “We all got back in the depot on Friday (27 January) and were told to empty our trucks.”

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He said that he has yet to be offered work elsewhere in the group, adding he did not qualify for redundancy having worked less than two years at the depot.

Ports across the UK have been reporting a fall in container volumes for some time. UK ports’ container volumes fell by 17% during the financial crisis of 2008 and took several years to recover. Some analysts are predicting the current economic downturn may have an even greater impact on volumes.

The Port of Liverpool, which MacIntyre’s Knowsley depot serves, has reported a marked decline in the volume of containers it handled in 2022, pointing to rising interest rates, higher energy costs and weakening consumer demand for manufactured and imported goods as key contributing factors.

In October last year Peel Ports Group, which operates the Port of Liverpool, warned that the decline in containerised cargo for Liverpool was in line with a 4.6% drop in volume across Europe.

“This, together with a recent sharp fall in container vessel charter rates of around 50%, indicate a rapid decline in throughput is expected over the next few months,” it added.

MacIntyre Transport was bought by Turners (Soham) in 2016. In its latest annual results for the year to 1 January 2022, MacIntyre Transport Group revealed turnover rising to £37.5m (2021: £34.2m), whilst pre-tax profit almost doubled to £2.7m (2021: £1.4m).