|ACL shuts down in Bahamas, U.S.|
Guardian Business Editor
Published: Jul 17, 2012
Atlantic Caribbean Line (ACL) is closing down operations in both The Bahamas and the U.S., putting at least a dozen Bahamians out of work.
Representing around 120 containers per week into the country, or 15 percent of the market share, ACL had offices in Nassau and Freeport.
However, the shock of the company’s closure is being felt beyond these borders.
All operations in the U.S., based out of Fort Pierce, Florida, are also in the midst of a complete shutdown. ACL, founded in 1986, operated five container ships. Nassau Port Director for ACL Garth Rolle confirmed that 12 Bahamians are out of work.
"It's a disappointment," he said.
"The position is the owners decided to pull out of the market. The last call was on Friday. So this is with immediate effect. We were given very little information. I can't go beyond what I've said."
The exact motives behind the shutdown are unclear, although Guardian Business understands the company's Fort Pierce location could be earmarked for a real estate project or another business venture.
Sources close to the matter indicated ACL may have been sold to a competitor. Guardian Business was unable to confirm or deny this development before press time.
Michael Maura Jr, the CEO of APD Limited, said the closure will have no impact on the supply chain for The Bahamas.
He pointed out that the move is not a case where a company opted to pull out of the market. Instead, ACL has decided to shut the entire business down. Maura told Guardian Business that the shipping industry has taken a number of blows since the onset of the financial crisis.
"It has been very trying," he explained.
"The last few years have been difficult. It is unfortunate, but from a business perspective, the remainder of the market will be picked up very easily."
The CEO noted that ACL had already spent a considerable sum outfitting its facility in the new Gladstone Freight Terminal, which is the counterpart to the $83 million Nassau Container Port.
The major shipping companies that remain in the Bahamian market include Tropical Shipping, Crowley and G&G Shipping.
In 2008, Pioneer Shipping, having spent 29 years in The Bahamas, laid off nearly 50 people after uprooting operations in the country.