THE port terminal operator DP World has opened a park full of empty containers in a bid to keep supply chains moving in the run-up to Christmas.

The 11.5-acre, £3million container park is increasing storage capacity in Southampton by a quarter.

DP World says the ability to hold extra empty containers will help keep supply chains moving at a time when ‘dwell times’ in UK terminals have increased. The development comes amid warnings that some goods could be in short supply for the festive season.

Ernst Schulze, UK chief executive of DP World, said: “The new £3m empty park is part of DP World’s ongoing £40m investment this year at Britain’s second largest container terminal – designed to take it up to the next level as a smart logistics hub – which will provide customers with speed, security, reliability and flexibility.

“We now have 25 per cent more storage capacity at Southampton than before which will enable us to maintain productivity and service levels for the vital next few months and beyond.

“Operating two ports at Southampton and London Gateway means that we offer unrivalled flexibility and choice to customers. Volumes can be switched quickly and easily between locations, giving customers more control over their supply chains and increasing security of supply for critical goods coming into the UK. No other logistics business can offer this level of flexibility and certainty.”

Southampton has already seen the dredging and widening of berths this year to ensure the world’s biggest ships can continue to use the docks.

A £1.5m, 120metre extension of a quay crane rail is enabling the world’s biggest cranes to service the entire terminal.

DP World handled a record volume of cargo in the first half of this year. Southampton handled 995,000 TEU (20ft equivalent units) in the period – its second-best first half ever, contributing to a UK total of 1.88m.

The ports of Southampton and London Gateway have both been awarded freeport status under the government’s initiative to encourage international trade in the aftermath of Brexit.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said yesterday that the government would do all it could to “mitigate” supply problems but could not “wave a magic wand” and did not rule out Christmas being affected.