Rock solid

Sölvesborgs Stuveri & Hamn (SBG Port) is the organisation for a harbour and dock located on Sweden’s eastern coast, near the Baltic Sea. Whilst the company itself was founded in 1908, activity as a maritime port can be traced back to 1600 following the decline of Hanseatic power, though its modern status as a dock began in the mid-18th century following the establishment of a strong export industry. The first shipyard was established in the harbour in 1801 whilst the first dedicated harbour master was employed in 1839. By 1851 the small town was seeing the arrival of 185 ships throughout the year. The post-World War Two period saw a high in activity for the shipyard but the shipping crisis on the late 1970s led to devastation of the Swedish maritime sector and the yard’s closure by the beginning of the 1980s.

Today SBG Port is a fully privatised port owned primarily by five shareholders: Sölvesborg Shipping, Sölvesborg Kommun, Sv Lantmännen, Volvo, and Stora Enso Nymölla. It runs a cargo-led operation that focuses on the handling of dry bulk, forest products, and steel coils. Traditionally a stevedoring port, SBG Port is well equipped to handle the loading and unloading of stone, wood chips, pulp, coils and other materials with its range of assets including tug boat, three harbour cranes with a maximum lifting capacity of 40 tonnes, forklifts with up to 45 tonnes capacity, and numerous wheel loaders.

In fact the company has recently made large investments into its capabilities, as managing director Jan-Erik Olsson points out: “During the past 18 months investments have included specially designed trucks for the transportation of coils by road to customers within Sweden, costing 0.5 million euros; 1.5 million euros on wheel loaders, a terminal tractor, roll-trailers and forklifts; a one million euro Sennebogen 870 hydraulic crane; and a further 0.5 million euros on additional handling equipment.

“In order to expand coil storage space, 2.8 million euros was invested in Warehouse M18. Installed with a gantry crane, coil blocks, and able to store coils up to 30 tonnes each, the building was completed in May 2012. After just seven weeks of usage it was already almost fully utilised with 18,000 tonnes stored. The net benefit of the total 6.3 million euro upgrade is that is has made it possible to enter new businesses and boost our annual turnover.”

In total there is 40,000 square metres of warehousing space and 100,000 square metres of storage area, providing more than adequate facilities for the needs of the port’s end users. These include, in order of activity: Stora Enso Nymölla, ThyssenKrupp Steel, Tata, Rock Armour Trading, Stora Enso Skog, voestAlpine, IFÖ, ArcelorMittal, Deralco Nordic, Oma, Södra Skogägarna, Söderenergi, as well as numerous other less frequent customers. The volumes handled by the most active companies in particular make the vast storage space an absolutely necessity.

They can then be transported from the port either by the port’s good road connections or by its rail terminal linked to the national rail network. This, too, is undergoing an upgrade. “Contracts have been signed for another six railway wagons to be leased beginning on August 6th,” Jan says. “This will mean, in total, there will be 19 wagons available for the distribution of steel coils over long distances.” SBG Port is able to offer these customers more than just stevedoring and storage, however. As a private company it has diversified into activities across the logistical process. Not only is it a port operator, it also offers freight forwarding and ship agency through its subsidiary and shareholder Sölvesborg Shipping. This makes it a one-stop shop for many of its customers and able to take care of their logistical procedures at an attractive price. This has made it stand out as a small but notable port on the Swedish coast.

Business during the last two years for the company has been very good, with the company seeing significant increases across the board between 2010 and 2011. The number of vessels calling at the port increased from 350 to over 500, gross sales rose from 80 million to 110 million, and operating profits rose from 11.4 million SEK to 16.1 million SEK. “All sectors of our business have expanded including, most importantly, the export of rock and stone to mainland Europe for the construction industry,” Jans says.

Though prepared for what 87negatives the future might bring, the managing director is nonetheless confident in the future of the port and its activities: “I am confident that, with the investments we have made during the last 18 months that have been totally financed by our own sources, we are very well prepared for a downturn in the market should that happen. We will continue growing our forwarding business and that will subsequently feed the port with increasing cargo volumes. As a relatively small port, I believe it is essential to work on all our sectors and rely on only vessel-bound traffic.”

Major new investments
Extensive port history
Strong shareholders