Solent Stevedores has landed a baggage-handling contract with historic cruise line Fred Olsen.

The deal will see the stevedoring specialist provide services to all Fred Olsen’s Southampton calls until 2017.

The contract is expected to increase the number of cruise ships contracted to Solent Stevedores (Solent) to more than 320 calls in 2014, accounting for approximately 75 per cent of all cruise ship activity in the Port of Southampton. The company also handles the baggage for the Carnival brands P&O, Cunard and Princess.

It’s the latest in a series of business wins that have seen Solent’s South-ampton business grow significantly.

In November the company purchased the assets of Southampton Fruit Handling, a company specialising in handling cargoes of imported fruit and vegetables from the Canary Islands.

That business is expected to grow and occupy the fruit handling facility at berth 104 all year round, instead of its previously seasonal operation. After the demise of the long-standing Huelin Renouf Channel Island freight service in mid 2013, Solent took over responsibility for handling the replacement container service. The company now has a contract for a further eight years to provide stevedoring services to the States of Jersey in the Port of St Helier.

Solent’s core bulks handling business reported a “satisfactory” 2013, despite a bad start thanks to one of the UK’s worst harvests on record in 2012. Exports of recycled metals and glass remain strong and, as usual, the loading out of recycled wood, from local sources, to be used in Swedish and Dutch power stations has started in earnest.

Solent Stevedores’ managing director Ian Jacobs said: “Our focus on customer service has led Fred Olsen to entrust us with this crucial part of its operation in Southampton. The acquisition of the assets of Southampton Fruit Handling we see as being transformational for the business and extends our stevedoring reach into a new industry sector for the company.

“Our business in Southampton is strong and the growth we have seen is built on our reputation for efficiency and reliability. We are proud of our role in the daily operation of this great port.”