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Leading banana importer and ripener S H Pratt Group is capitalising on its packing and service expertise to launch a new venture.

The Luton-based firm is entering the final negotiations of a ground-breaking deal with DP World  London Gateway to site its new business, named Halo, at the deep water port.

Announcing the multi-million pound investment David Bateman, S H Pratt Group managing director, said: “Halo is a new venture under the S H Pratt Group banner. The business will see us drawing on our expertise in packing and service provision to handle a range of new products including topfruit, citrus and grapes.

“Subject to final design details being agreed, Halo will be operating the port’s first temperature-controlled, chilled and frozen packing facility.

“DP London Gateway is perfectly positioned close to the M25 and has unrivalled access to the rest of the UK and we are confident that this will mean we are able to pass on tangible savings to customers and also reduce demurrage by offering a rapid turnaround. We know how to process these products – that is our area of expertise.”

Chris Lewis, chief executive Officer, DP World London Gateway, said: “In just over a year’s time,  S H Pratt Group will have a world-class, temperature controlled distribution facility on the same site as a world-class semi-automated port, located right on the doorstep of the UK’s biggest consumer market with unrivalled access to the whole of the country.

“Sustainability is a growing concern to British shoppers, and by locating here S H Pratt Group will be able to deliver on their commitments to the environment while also ensuring consumers get the freshest produce by taking advantage of our extensive maritime and landside transport connections.”

As well as the benefit of operating a premium port-side logistics from bespoke premises Halo will set out to achieve the highest level of industry accreditations.

David added: “We really have set out to raise the bar on produce handling and the range of services we can offer. We can offer full pallet or case pick and ongoing quality management, whether it is a simple distribution process or value added solutions, and full supply chain integrity.”

Halo is part of SH Pratt Group’s steady programme of investment which it has undertaken over the last few years. It will be serviced by Kinship Logistics, its wholly-owned logistics subsidiary.