Manchester – The heart of the Northern Powerhouse


United, City and Oasis – Some of Manchester’s most famous exports throughout the world.

Now businesses throughout Manchester are focusing on expanding their export activities to emanate the success of these brands on a global scale, with others importing more goods to account for the improving economic outlook in the city.

Regeneration in and around Manchester has helped to contribute to the growing economy. Aided by the city’s improving transportation links, and spurred by the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ strategy, business confidence in the region is experiencing a welcome boost.

Considered the birthplace of the industrial revolution, Manchester experienced a high level of deprivation in the 1960’s, following the collapse of its major industries such as cotton and machinery that had seen the city booming during the industrial heyday.

Rejuvenation in recent years however has seen Manchester beginning to come back as a force in manufacturing, with innovations such as graphene being developed in the City, and gaining recognition on the global stage. This increase in manufacturing within Manchester has been key to the success of the economic boost, with manufacturing accounting for a £10.6bn contribution to the Greater Manchester economy in 2016. (10.6% more than in 2014).

Many of the goods that have been produced in and around Manchester are not just for the domestic market but are exported globally, and export numbers continue to rise, with over £50bn of exports from the north of England last year.

Amongst those involved in exports are companies that have been aided by the governments Northern Powerhouse initiative.

The Northern Powerhouse Strategy is an ambitious project designed to bring together the cities, towns and rural communities of the North of England and Wales, a region in which Manchester sits at the heart, to become a powerhouse for the UK economy.

As part of the strategy, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund has earmarked £400m to assist companies within the region in growing their business between 2016 and 2021. Funds can be used to launch new products, enter new markets and launch new facilities and, to date, more than £50m has been invested in supporting over 260 SME’s.

To accommodate the boom in business, and to support further growth in the region, developments are ongoing to improve the infrastructure in and around Manchester.

The Manchester Ship Canal

Completed in 1893, the Manchester Ship Canal was built to help boost the economy and reduce carriage charges on imports and exports. Recent years have witnessed a revival of the famous canal as an alternative means to move goods from the ports to the centre of the city.

Now owned by Peel Ports, the 36 mile stretch of canal running from the Mersey Estuary to the centre of Manchester handles around 8 million tonnes of cargo annually, including bulk liquids, dry bulk and containers.  Dubbed the ‘Green Highway,’ the canal removes cargo from congested roads and railways as it enables companies to transport goods to the north of England by sea and canal as opposed to entering the UK in the South and then having to be transported by road.

The canal’s revival has been spurred by the Atlantic Gateway development strategy, in which investment has been made to develop Liverpool Port and the Manchester Ship Canal. The launch of a service called the Manchester Shuttle, linking Liverpool and Manchester, has encouraged a dramatic increase in container shipments, and has seen volumes on the canal rise from 3,000 containers a year in 2009 to 22,500 in 2013. It is hoped that the further planned investment will encourage more business to join the likes of larger organisations, such as Tesco, in utilising the route for shipments.

Peel Ports have confirmed plans for the development of 4,000,000 sq ft of port-centric warehousing and logistics facilities along the canal over the next 5-10 years, which, it is hoped, will help to increase the total number of containers shipped to 100,000 a year by 2030.

The £138 million expansion of the Port of Salford, which opened in 2016 has already provided significant additional warehousing capacity, the movement of goods from which, is supported by the tri-modal freight exchange. The new rail freight interchange expected to increase freight trains by up to 50% a day by 2030.


Manchester Airport

Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister has described Manchester Airport as the ‘global face of the Northern Powerhouse.’ With over 100 airlines serving more than 220 destinations, the airport handles 115,000 tonnes of cargo annually and is certainly a focal point in connecting the north of the UK internationally.

The UK’s largest airport outside of London, Manchester continues to grow and to attract new operations. Direct air freight routes to China launched 2 years ago, during which time UK exports increased to the Asian powerhouse by more than 50% in 2016 alone, whilst total export in goods to China from North West firms last year was valued at £1.3bn.

Given the success of the trade route from Manchester to China, it comes as no surprise that direct flights to Beijing are due to launch in June.  The airport has also attracted new routes to Africa. Earlier this month Ethiopian Airlines confirmed plans for a service to operate four times a week between Manchester and Addis Ababa, which is scheduled to start from 1 December. (initially transit will be via Brussels)

The importance of the airport’s operations, offering millions easy access to global markets is supported in its expansion plans.  The Manchester Airport Transformation Programme (MAN-TP) encompasses significant investment in the development of a new terminal for the city airport.  An investment of £1bn will see the new terminal, expected for completion in 2023, enable the airport to handle more than double the current capacity for passenger numbers.


Logistics hubs

Of course, it’s not just people that Manchester airport is crucial for transporting internationally. As mentioned, Manchester Airport handles a significant level of air cargo each year. 55% of this is transported as belly hold cargo on passenger flights, whilst the remainder is moved via dedicated cargo flights.

To facilitate the cargo movement through the airport, efficient and convenient storage solutions are required. At the heart of the UK motorway network sits Manchester’s World Freight Terminal, and a recent development of a new logistics hub near to the World Freight Terminal offers increased capacity to accommodate the additional demand that will come from the introduction of more flights.

The location of these terminals are ideal in that they are well positioned to serve onward transportation requirements to facilitate the UK’s distribution needs.


Road improvements

To help maintain the attractiveness of utilising Manchester’s logistics facilities as a central hub for distribution, road improvement schemes are being undertaken to help to reduce congestion levels in and around Manchester. Completion of works to upgrade part of the A556 to dual carriageway, alongside the current work in process in implementing managed motorway schemes on the M60 and M62, should help to decrease journey times, benefiting the freight vehicles, which represent around 24% of all traffic on Greater Manchester roads.


As vision becomes reality and the developments in and around Manchester come to fruition, so do the clear opportunities for businesses to capitalise on the imports and exports of goods to the region. Our Manchester team are able to help provide all you need for developing and growing a smooth and efficient supply chain.

With offices based in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, Velta are able to offer local knowledge, whilst, through our extensive network of Global agents, we offer worldwide international coverage to all markets. To find out more, please get in touch!


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