According to Horizon's annual report, its vessels transport food, household goods, auto parts, building materials, and materials used in manufacturing. Horizon, generating about $1 billion in annual revenue but unprofitable over the last five years, said its big customers include Costco, Lowe's, Safeway, Wal-Mart, and Johnson & Johnson.
Owned by the PRPA, the Packer Avenue terminal is operated by privately held Greenwich Terminals L.L.C., part of Gloucester City-based Holt Logistics Corp.
Tom Holt Jr., chief executive of Holt Logistics, said persuading Horizon to leave the New York-area port where it had operated for 56 years was a "big win" for Philadelphia. Holt estimated the new shipping line will add 400 direct jobs.
Holt Logistics began discussions with Horizon about relocating here four years ago, he said.
Horizon, which is publicly traded, said it expected to record a restructuring charge of about $6 million for the costs of the move and its estimated liability from withdrawing from the Port of Elizabeth's multiemployer pension plan.
Besides North Jersey, Horizon ships cargo weekly between San Juan, Puerto Rico, and two other U.S. ports, Jacksonville, Fla., and Houston. The first Horizon ship is scheduled to dock at the Packer Avenue terminal on April 11.
In December, Horizon announced it was reducing service between Jacksonville and San Juan to once a week from twice a week, starting in January. At the time, Rodriguez noted that "Puerto Rico's economy remains in a prolonged multiyear recession, during which time domestic container volumes to the island have contracted sharply."
Shares of Horizon closed unchanged Wednesday, at $1.49.
Contact Mike Armstrong
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