DFDS Seaways has strengthened its foothold in the UK short-sea crossing market by acquiring Dutch-owned Norfolkline for $504 million.
The ferry giant will add Norfolkline’s Dover-Dunkirk, Rosyth-Zeebrugge, and Liverpool to Belfast and Dublin to its existing two UK routes from Newcastle to Amsterdam and Harwich-Esbjerb.
The full integration process, including branding, is scheduled for completion by the end of 2011. The combined group will include 18 passenger vessels carrying almost four million passengers a year and with 6,000 staff.
Norfolkline currently operates 24 crossings a week on the Dover-Dunkirk route using three ferries. In 2009 it carried 2.5 million passengers and almost 800,000 cars.
DFDS said final organisation details due to be completed by mid-September.
“The focus during the integration process is on a smooth customer transition and positive customer experience, offering people an enhanced travel choice and experience along with an easier choice of booking options,” the company said in a statement.
“The two organisations have a natural fit which has revealed little overlap and the process has therefore been simplified.
“The transaction will strengthen the presence of DFDS as a sea-based transport network in northern Europe,” the company said.
“The acquisition of Norfolkline, with a route network covering the North Sea, the English Channel and the Itrish Sea, will allow DFDS to expand its network in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea to include two markets – the channel and the Irish Sea.”
John Crummie, UK managing director of DFDS Seaways, said: “This is an exciting time for DFDS Seaways as we work towards taking sea transport and travel to a new level by offering a far greater choice of travel options to passengers and an enhanced customer service experience.”