DP World will rein back costs and review strategy despite increase in profit and turnover last year

The port operator behind the planned £1.5bn London Gateway port has said it is reviewing its expansion strategy and cutting costs in response to the global downturn.

In a trading update, Dubai-based DP World said that pre-tax profit for 2008 would be up on last year and that it had handled 15% more business than in 2007.

But chief executive Mohammed Sharaf said: “The container terminal industry has reported increasingly challenging conditions during 2008, which have worsened during the fourth quarter. We expect these conditions to remain for the foreseeable future.”

He added: “With this in mind, we have implemented a strategy to focus on minimising the impact on margins and preserving cash, which includes reducing costs and taking a prudent approach to our working capital position.”

Last summer, the firm appointed Laing O'Rourke to start on the first package of work at the London Gateway port.

The job will involve building a deep-sea port on the north bank of the River Thames at Thurrock in Essex. It will include a 2.3km-long quay with seven deep-water container vessel berths.