|The British Ports Association (BPA), the national body for ports and harbours, is today publishing their latest Business Confidence survey of UK ports sector and port professionals. Despite recent supply chain pressures and energy and economic concerns this survey very much highlights a ‘business as usual’ activity amongst UK port operators, as well as assessing the levels of confidence amongst decision-makers within ports.
The data reveals that most ports are at least tentatively confident about their business outlook in the coming 12 months, though a quarter does not feel confident at all.
47.3% report that their business performances had improved since this time last year, while 31.6% report that their revenues has fallen.
However compared to activities pre-pandemic, this time two years ago, over half of the port executives surveyed report that revenues were down. That said, 93% said ports would be investing in either new business services, property or infrastructure, in the coming 12 months.
The results reflect a duality of two overriding moods amongst the industry – one of optimism and opportunity – and another of caution and uncertainty. When asked to summarise their outlook for 2021-22 in a word or sentence, the words ‘positive’ and ‘uncertain’ were the most popular responses, both mentioned in equal measure. These were followed by mention of ‘opportunities’ and ‘caution’.
The survey also looked at what ports are thinking about and what the challenges would be for the coming year. Of the top concerns cited by ports, Brexit was the most common answer by far. This was followed by a lack of investment, which was frequently reported by smaller ports in particular, as some noted difficulties accessing investment to revitalise infrastructure. Also climate change, port congestion, a lack of HGV drivers, the NI Protocol and the future of fishing industry were also common themes of concern.
Commenting, Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive, at the British Ports Association said: