James Kemball recorded a pre-tax loss of £7.7m last year, as UK container transport endured “the worst conditions ever”.

The Felixstowe-based container haulier said its results for the year ending 31 March 2018 reflected major changes taking place within shipping and their knock-on effect on road haulage.

Turnover fell £419,000 to £27.8m and its losses deepened by £6m to £7.7m during the period (2017: loss of £1.7m).

In its business review the company said: “During the financial year the impact of a major shipping line going into receivership has caused major disruption on the port.

“Further disruption was caused due to vessel delays and omissions. This has been compounded with the increase in vessel sizes.”

However, Kemball said it had invested heavily in equipment and infrastructure and had increased its fleet significantly.

It added: “There are still a number of challenges that lay ahead as new shipping alliances are formed and new port rotations are implemented.

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“The company has made further acquisitions to strengthen the network and the directors are confident that the changes being made to the company build a strong foundation for the future.”

Last October, James Kemball, along with other industry stakeholders, compiled a document about the state of the industry, which concluded that unless changes were made container transport would collapse.

It blamed aggressive shipping line competition resulting in barrel bottom rates and a knock-on effect on haulage; ports unable to handle new mega ships and a worsening UK economy.

“Container transport is in its worst condition ever,” it concluded. “Normally the container transport industry can deal with problems but not when they are on the scale they are now and no one can make money or invest under the current working practices and charging structure.

“We have already seen a meltdown in service, which has been fuelled by the change in global container shipping and port operations and further strangled by increasing costs and decreasing revenues.”

In August 2016, South Korean shipping line Hanjin filled for receivership, before being declared bankrupt in February 2017.