31 Jul 2009

Light at end of tunnel overseas - Mainfreight

11:48 am on 31 July 2009

Cargo handling and freight group Mainfreight says it is starting to see signs of growth in its overseas markets, though the company admits trading remains tough.

At its annual meeting on Thursday, Mainfreight managing director Don Braid told shareholders it continues to cut costs and improve margins to cope with sluggish sales growth.

Mr Braid says volumes improved in July, particularly in Australia, and he thinks its overseas operations, which include the United States and China, will improve more quickly and vigorously than in New Zealand.

Mainfreight rolled over its funding facilities with its banks, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank, giving it access to about $200 million for expansion through to June 2012.

Meanwhile, Mr Braid expressed concern at the lack of urgency by the Government in improving the country's transport system.

Mr Braid's says a world-class super-port is needed to handle larger ships, or New Zealand risks becoming reliant on Australia to ship goods to markets.

Mr Braid says Auckland, as the country's biggest city, is best placed for the super-port.