THURROCK, UK--Agencies from the PR and advertising worlds are tussling for a new brief to support London Gateway, the £1.5bn development that aims to dramatically expand the Port of London.

The Holmes Report understands that a number of firms visited the London Gateway site last week, ahead of further meetings over the coming month. The brief is described as a “healthy six-figure” sum by one source involved in the process.

DP World, which owns the project, is searching for broad B2B marketing services support, drawing interest from PR, advertising and integrated marketing agencies. Another agency source told the Holmes Report that multiple agencies may end up being selected, but no preference has hitherto been expressed.

To date, London Gateway has worked with Weber Shandwick, which handled the project’s “stakeholder launch” last month, announcing an intention to open by the end of 2013, and outlining the benefits it would bring to UK businesses and consumers.

Located on the banks of the River Thames in Thurrock, London Gateway will comprise the UK’s largest deep-water port along with one of Europe’s largest logistics parks. The development will significantly boost the Port of London’s competitive offer against the UK’s first- and second-ranked ports: Felixstowe and Southampton, respectively.

Accordingly, said sources, DP World is seeking a firm that will help it build a compelling proposition to both its direct customers (such as shipping and transportation companies), and to end users - the large retailers that hold considerable influence over supply chain decisions.

The project was approved by the Government in 2007, as one of the hubs to regenerate the Thames Gateway, but economic conditions have affected its progress. Moody’s downgraded DP World’s financial status to junk in 2009 before raising it back to investment grade earlier this year. Parent company Dubai World, meanwhile, has also been affected by financial issues.

Construction of the port began in early 2010. Its arrival will significantly increase the UK’s deep-sea port capacity, which has been identified as a priority by the Department of Transport. 

DP World did not respond to request for comment.