Kent

P&O ferry announces business review

Ferry firm P&O has announced a fundamental review of all aspects of its business but said it was not planning any large scale redundancies.

The company, which employs 4,500 people across the UK, said it would be looking to generate revenue and cut some costs and could not rule out some job losses.

When the firm underwent a similar review in 2004 about 1,500 posts were lost, mainly in Portsmouth.

Steve Todd, from the RMT union, said he was "very concerned".

He added: "There's a lot of people in Dover and it's already an employment blackspot.

"Other places in the UK where P&O operate from, Hull and the Irish Sea, are employment blackspots.

"Any job losses there would be devastating."

'Tough trading conditions'

A spokesman for P&O said the review was about growth rather than cost cutting.

In a letter to staff, chief executive of Dover-based P&O, Helen Deeble, said: "Trading conditions are extremely tough due to the state of the economy across Europe. There has also been major competitor activity in the Irish Sea which has hit results hard.

"This year we have seen a further deterioration in freight market demand and rates falling as fuel prices have increased once more.

"We have benefited from the demise of SeaFrance, which has helped enormously in the short term, but that benefit will come to an end as the former SeaFrance ships commence operations."

She added: "Senior managers across the business are working on these budgets now, in order to improve our position, as, without action, 2013 will be worse than 2012 .

"We will be establishing an internal review focusing on a number of business areas where we believe there is significant room for improvement in performance, both on revenue generation and costs."

Conservative MP for Dover and Deal, Charlie Elphicke, said he had been assured by P&O that it did not "plan to lose jobs in our community".

P&O has a fleet of 24 ships covering nine routes between Dover and Calais, Hull and Rotterdam/Zeebrugge, Liverpool and Dublin, Cairnryan/Troon and Larne and Teesport to Rotterdam/Zeebrugge.

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