THE group controlling Tees and Hartlepool ports has announced a rise in turnover of 0.9 per cent in the first six months since it floated on London's junior stock market in July.

PD Ports Group floated on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) after being bought by PD Ports plc, a group set up to make the purchase, with the backing of stockbroker Collins Stewart.

It said yesterday that it was planning to upgrade from AIM to the main list on the stock market by December 7.

Group chief executive Graham Roberts said: "By continuing to promote both Teesport and Hull as the Northern Gateway for North-based retailers and other importers, we are achieving further growth at our container terminals at those ports.

"The outlook for PD Ports in the second half of the year remains favourable and we look forward to the future with confidence."

On the Tees, increased revenue was offset by reductions in steel exports and car imports.

Steel exports were lower than planned as Corus diverted its products to UK customers, and lower car imports reflected the decision by General Motors to increase the number of UK entry ports from two to three.

Two surplus PD Ports sites, at Selby and Scunthorpe, were sold in the period for £1.1m, and the company said it expected to dispose of further properties in the second six months.

Turnover in PD's logistics division was up, but operating profit fell from £0.9m to £0.3m.

Deep sea container volumes increased by ten per cent at Teesport and this is expected to grow even more as PD plans to promote the use of a northern port to serve an area stretching from the north to the Midlands.

Mr Roberts said: "We are also in detailed discussions with a major international retailer in relation to an import centre to be built on the Tees Dock estate. If concluded, this will generate both rental income and increased container volumes."

The ports group is also pushing ahead with its plans for Hartlepool's Victoria Harbour.

In June it submitted a planning application for 3,000 homes to be built over 20 years, 150,000sq ft of retail warehouses and one million sq ft of office space, all at the Victoria Harbour site.