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TWO of Hampshire’s leading transport firms have launched a partnership to carry freight between the Isle of Wight and Southampton.

Island-based Steve Porter Transport Group and Southampton’s Meachers Global Logistics will work together on the delivery of inbound and outbound freight across the Solent, predominantly using Red Funnel Ferries.

Meachers will begin trunking Steve Porter overnight loads from the Isle of Wight to Midlands distribution centres for onward national distribution.

Steve Porter, the Isle of Wight’s largest independent freight carrier, is forecasting a ten per cent increase in business activity from the partnership.

It already has strong links with Red Funnel, which acquired its distribution division in 2011.

Meachers is recruiting new drivers to service the first wave of trunking, while Steve Porter has placed orders for a new trailer fleet, which will be delivered by the spring of 2013.

Steve Porter, chairman of Steve Porter Transport Group, said: “It’s good news for our company, our customers and the Isle of Wight as we expect any increase in activity to be reflected in new employment opportunities across the business, but particularly on the Island.”

Stuart Terris, managing director of Meachers Global Logistics added: “The alliance is expected to provide significant opportunities for both businesses and we will be looking to promote the commercial advantages to supermarkets, retailers and organisations currently moving significant volumes of cross-Solent freight.”

James Fulford, Red Funnel’s chief executive, said the firm looked forward to strengthening its relationship with both operators.