AV Dawson, owner and operator of Port of Middlesbrough has acquired the dry bulk business, Cobra Middlesbrough, as part of its strategic investment and expansion plans.

The acquisition will see Port of Middlesbrough’s footprint grow by eight acres, unlocking further opportunities on what was previously a 100-acre site.

Cobra, based on North Road in Middlesbrough, operates a dry bulk handling terminal with processing and packing facilities. The company’s main area of focus and expertise is in the salt market, handling and distributing thousands of tonnes of salt every year.

Much of the salt stored at the facility has been mined locally. Some of the salt is used in animal feeds, but the majority is distributed to councils across the country for gritting roads during the winter.

Cobra also provides a range of services for the farming industry. The business receives, screens and bags polyhalite – which, like salt, is mined. This is then used as a fertiliser in the agriculture sector in the UK and overseas.

The Cobra site, which is directly adjacent to Port of Middlesbrough, boasts extensive rail infrastructure and has direct access to the East Coast Mainline – this provides additional rail capacity for the port to support existing and new customers.

Gary Dawson, AV Dawson managing director said: “We’re excited to acquire Cobra Middlesbrough. We have worked closely with the business for many years, handling the import and export of salt through our port facility and supporting their rail logistics. Bringing both ours and their operations together, within one business, enables us to provide job security to existing staff while delivering greater efficiencies for our customers.

“We recognise that the site requires some significant investment, but this actually fits perfectly with our strengths and our strategy to invest, develop and expand our site.

“This acquisition is also strategically important for our wider business because of its excellent rail connectivity. We are working with more and more of our customers to help them identify opportunities to transition from road to rail, so we need to ensure we have the capacity to accommodate their requirements. This is particularly important as we look to put our net zero strategy into action with the ultimate aim to become carbon neutral – we see rail as a big opportunity to help us and our customers to achieve this.”

This acquisition is not the first time AV Dawson has made a strategic investment to improve its rail infrastructure. In 2015, the business struck a deal with Network Rail to take full control of the seven-acre neighbouring Middlesbrough Goods Yard.