Handling growth

Originally established in 1767, looking after vessels anchored in the Downs or off the northeast Spit at Margate, George Hammond PLC has expanded over the years to receive vessels calling at Dover, Ramsgate, Medway and Harwich. As a result of this expansion the company is now regarded as one of the region’s premier shipping and forwarding agents with direct experience in port services for both cargo and cruise vessels. This capability is supplemented by the expertise of its 250-strong workforce built up over many years dealing with breakdowns, calls for bunkers or fresh water, crew changes and most recently, the husbanding of vessels involved in wind farm projects. With its main office in Dover, the organisation is still a privately owned business successfully combining the strengths of tradition with strategic planning, investment in people and technology, as well as the development of key business areas that cater precisely for clients’ needs.

As well as being the recognised leading expert in deep sea pilotage and accompanying services, George Hammond greatly benefits from its Dover location that requires little deviation from international shipping lanes and is a cost effective and convenient location to stop and take on stores and charts. Indeed, the company’s motor launches service many vessels transiting the Dover Straight especially for the boarding or landing of over-carried district pilots from rivers such as the Scheldt, Ems, Weser, Elbe and Maas in Europe. As the only general stevedore in the Dover area, George Hammond’s staff have developed a reputation for the quick and safe discharge of both palletised cargo and containers. This year alone has seen its teams handle some 300,000 pallets of fresh produce and 4500 containers from three weekly services operated by Network Shipping, Seatrade and Africa Express Line, with produce sourced from Costa Rica, Columbia and West Africa.

The inherent expertise sustained within the organisation’s management and operational teams has also seen it maintain a 141-year association with Lloyd’s and the subsequent appointment as Lloyd’s Sub-Agents for Kent. In addition, the company directors individually hold the position of Honorary Consul for seven European countries, while the company itself is a corporate member of The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, BIMCO, BIFA and authorised Trinity House Light Dues Collector making it quite a force to be reckoned with in the British marine industry.

James Ryeland, managing director of George Hammond, highlights its key differentiators in this globally competitive market: “The company is fully controlled and fortunate to have a loyal, long-serving and knowledgeable workforce that have helped to build up the ‘Hammond Dover’ brand, which is recognised worldwide. Within our operating limits, we endeavour to be among the leaders to encompass industry trends and statutory requirements, being the first to comply with Lloyd’s quality system, becoming a full Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) and accredited to the 360 Quality association’s standard are prime examples of this. The fact that we operate in such a specialised and international market puts quite a global perspective on our business and we enjoy close and personal relationships with a number of high profile clients.”

With such a broad service portfolio and flexibility to fit in with client demand, George Hammond works closely with the likes of Del Monte, Dole Fresh UK, Tesco, Fyffes, Mack Multiples and International Produce on the fresh produce side of its business, while SIMBA and Compagnie Fruitière created the need for cross-docking services whereby produce can be landed at Dover before being immediately delivered to France or Belgium.

Deep-sea pilotage is regularly supplied to companies such as Misui, Hyundai, Nissan, Hanjin, Yang Ming and Wan Hai while the company’s port agency services are employed by cruise lines such as Saga, Carnival, Princess, Holland America Line, Seabourn, Costa and Iberocruceros.

“In addition, we own and operate seven petrol retail filling sites in Kent, which are currently contracted to BP and SPAR branding and offer the latest in state-of-the-art Aquatec car washes and ATM facilities,” James notes. “Apart from the ongoing development of these assets we are constantly investing in our capabilities and have recently ordered ten new forklifts to enhance our stevedoring operations offering the latest in eco-friendly design while being adapted as double pallet handlers. We are also in discussion with the local port authority with a view to developing container handling potential and storage outside of our current working footprint.”

Remaining open minded towards investment and industry opportunity is a key element of George Hammond’s ongoing success. Over the coming years the company is looking to consolidate its position as a respected and efficient provider of varied shipping services, while continuously upgrading and developing its portfolio of retail petrol sites. “With our Dover location being highly dynamic by its very nature, life is far from dull and there will always be something exciting happening!” James concludes.

Strategically located for premier port services

First major port to become full Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)

Currently investing in forklifts for its stevedoring activities