CitySprint in seasonal recruitment drive

DPDgroup owned same day distribution company CitySprint has announced it is recruiting 600 couriers for the coming peak season. Many of these will be working beyond the peak season as the company plans to grow its operations into next year.

CitySprint is a B2B, same-day courier and many of its retail clients face a busier time in the run-up to Christmas. With demand rising, it requires extra drivers to meet the demands of much larger volumes and fast turnarounds.

More than 3,500 couriers work with CitySprint. The majority of couriers it will be taking on will have small and large vans, though other drivers will be required too. At the same time it will be taking on drivers to drive its electric van fleet – it is to put 40 more into operation in the early part of 2023.

Mark Footman, Chief Operations Officer at CitySprint, commented: “Our focus is always on providing our clients with the best possible service and, in turn, helping them do the same for their customers. Getting the festive-season supply chain right can be difficult and we understand how important this time of year is for everyone. With just over eight weeks to go until Christmas, we’re making sure we have the right team in place to provide a first-class service for our customers to help keep their operations moving during this year’s peak season. We’re also bolstering our fleet to support the ongoing demand we foresee in January 2023 and beyond.”


CitySprint trials e-cargo-bike

DPDgroup owned same-day and overnight delivery company CitySprint has been trialling an EAV Solutions e-cargo-bike for deliveries and collections in Oxford.

The EAV 2Cubed cargo bike has a cargo space capable of payloads of up to 150kg. Being pedal-assist it is considered an e-bike and the rider does not require a driving license to operate it. It is also permitted to use pedestrian areas and cycle paths as other bicycles are allowed to use.

Since the CitySprint trial began in May, the EAV e-cargo-bike has done more than 8,000 miles and completed over 200 zero-emission deliveries. It has been put in delivery and collection assignments including overnight collections, hospital blood collections and medicine deliveries around Oxford.

Oxford’s Service Centre Manager, Michael Peterson, says: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to trial the EAV and now branded looks awesome, we have had feedback from multiple couriers and has been very positive. Members of the public have asked to take photo’s along with customers who have also been impressed with the EAV capabilities.”

The machine is now to be sent to Central London to test is capabilities further. Being an electric bike it is not subject to low-emissions zone charges and will be much to cheaper to run than the courier’s existing diesel powered van fleet. Other delivery firms have seen great leaps in efficiency compared to diesel vans as the machines are easier to park, more manoeuvrable and can get around older urban centres more quickly. The trial around Oxford and the City of London should show this to quite an extent.


Hermes UK to make changes after Inverness depot problems

Hermes UK has assured a Member of the Scottish Parliament that it is planning changes after a major backlog of parcels at its Inverness depot led to many delays in delivery and a large number of losses.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead met with Hermes UK to demand changes and to ensure that such issues will not be repeated during future Christmas periods.

The delivery company blamed the impact of the pandemic on staffing levels, on the problems it had with getting parcels from the depot to customers. This issue affected a large tract of Northern Scotland.

Lochhead said: “Given the rise in online shopping since the onset of the pandemic, it is important that courier companies like Hermes are making sure that rural areas like Moray – which are more dependent on online shopping than more urban areas – are able to receive their parcels in a timely manner.

“Assurances were given to me that changes are already in the pipeline for the coming months, with new channels of communication for customers to chase up and report issues with parcels and a much clearer tracking system.”

Local media reported that customers were unable to find out when their parcels would arrive amidst the crisis at the depot, and were also unable to make direct contact with the depot to find out what was going on. Many customers said that their parcels didn’t arrive at all.

Speaking to the media, some households asked Hermes UK to stop delivering parcels to the depot while the backlog was addressed.

Hermes UK apologised to the MSP. It has been contacted for public comment by local media outlets but none have been forthcoming.


Royal Mail to sack 700 management staff

Trades Unions have responded angrily to Royal Mail’s plans to sack 700 management staff.

Royal Mail has said that the plans to sack managers are designed to “streamline operational management to improve focus on performance at a local level”. In addition the mail and parcels operation says that the cuts will be made “through natural turnover, redeployment and voluntary redundancy, wherever possible”.

The 700 management roles going are from 8,000 in the workforce that totals 140,000 nationwide.

Unite is the main union for managers at Royal Mail and says that it will fight the cuts. It says that 900 managers in the delivery division are set to go. Royal Mail agreed on the figure but stated that around 200 will be redeployed.

Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Coming on top of a record turnaround in the company’s fortunes, which resulted in the board handing over a £400m giveaway to certain shareholders, this is cold comfort for those long months when postal employees were being badly hit by coronavirus at its worst.

“Unite will be giving maximum support to our members in fighting these unjust job cuts and this includes the possibility of an industrial action ballot. Now is the time for the top executives to reconsider their proposals.”

After a one-off charge of £70 million for the redundancy measures, the cuts will result in a £40 million a year annual saving. The cuts are made even as shortages in workforce led to Royal Mail wildly missing delivery targets for its mail and parcels across the country, and the argument is effectively being made that by cutting workers it will improve its service.


UPS faces class action lawsuit for sexual discrimination

A group of women who work in a sort area at UPS’s Oakland Hub in California are suing for sexual discrimination.

The $250 million class action lawsuit alleges that UPS pays women less for equal work, are denied the benefits of earned seniority and have problems in advancing their careers. 

It further states, that women regarded as ‘too feminine’ and those “who avail themselves of the company’s paid time off or flexible work schedule policy” to work part-time to care for family “are particularly vulnerable,” the suit says.

The class action seeks at least $250 million for female staff across the US who have or will face systemic bias based on gender, age, and/or disability at any time after Nov. 9, 2017.

The filing has been made to the US District Court for the Northern District of California. It names their supervisor, Ricardo Moreno has a defendant, alleging he has engaged in sexual discrimination against them at work.

Moreno is “the chief harasser, and retaliator in charge of small sort,” the suit says. He “recruits other supervisors to sabotage” female workers, “singles out” women he believes are too feminine “to do additional work.”

As well as the specific supervisor, the lawsuit alleges that the human resources system at UPS is inherently biased against women.
“UPS has long been aware of these problems but has failed to take remedial measures to prevent or correct them,” the suit says.


HGV driver pay – Unite the union secures multiple above inflation pay deals

The UK’s Unite trades union has announced a series of successes in getting HGV drivers significant pay rises through a range of employers, according to national newspaper reports.

Amongst its other wins, it secured a 20% pay ride for 39 HGV drivers at a Wiltshire transport hub, 17.% pay rise for 24 Liverpool tanker drivers and a pay rise to £15 an hour for 90 Argos drivers in the North West. Heinz, Sainsbury’s and other major firms have separately offered above-inflation pay rises to their HGV drivers thanks to work by Unite. Unite drivers at the BMW Mini plant in Oxford were offered a 27% pay rise over two years.

This comes after union members elected a new general secretary, Sharon Graham, to head the union. She set up a ‘crack team’ to focus on HGV driver pay issues, which includes a team of specialist negotiators to settle strikes or threatened industrial action.

Ms Graham said: “These results are an excellent reflection of how the union intends to focus all its energy and willpower in the future on fighting for jobs, pay and conditions for our members. It’s early days but the special unit I set up is already beginning to bear fruit.”

A range of factors have impacted HGV driver numbers that were already at near crisis point prior to the pandemic and Brexit thanks to low pay and very poor working conditions. The UK government has consistently refused to listen to industry bodies like the Road Haulage Association and Logistics UK, and only mass union action in recent months combined with the supply chain crisis has started to turn the situation around for both HGV drivers and their employers.


DPD UK live tests EV tyres for pollution reduction

DPD UK is trialling a new delivery vehicle tyre that is designed to reduce the amount of tyre particulate matter and micro plastics emissions.

Tyre innovators ENSO have designed a new tyre that is designed for electric vehicles. Made of fossil fuels, traditional tyres emit more airborne particulate matter than diesel tailpipes. They also emit microplastics, of which they are believed to contribute 28% of all ocean microplastics. Where electric vehicles are concerned, due to the added weight of the vehicles and increased torque from the motors, tyre particulate matter emissions are increased significantly.

The trial is part of the London FreightLab Innovation Challenge, a challenge supported by Transport for London (TfL) to tackle London’s air pollution problems. The new ENSO tyres are designed ton significantly increase energy efficiency of the vehicles using them as well as reducing both air and microplastic pollution.

DPD UK is to live test the new tyres on its Nissan e-NV200 electric vans and to compare wear and energy efficiency with industry benchmarks. The vehicles will be tested out of its two zero-emissions depots at Westminster and Hyde Park.

DPD UK’s Head of CSR, Olly Craughan, commented: “Rather than just simply buying EVs, our whole approach to sustainability is about joining the dots and working with like-minded innovators to help solve the big challenges like air pollution.  Through our involvement in London FreightLab we got to know ENSO and understand their vision.  While EVs are the future, unless we also solve the problem of tyre PM pollution, we aren’t really unlocking their full potential.”  

“This trial is an important step for us and another industry first.  ENSO’s approach fits perfectly with our vision to deliver green to 25 towns and cities by 2025 and we are really keen to see how their tyres perform on our EV fleet.” 

Gunnlaugur Erlendsson, ENSO Founder and CEO said: “ENSO’s innovative EV tyres are designed to be EV-range-extending and PM-pollution-reducing, and through TFL’s London FreightLab trial with DPD, we will demonstrate their importance in reducing air-pollution in London.” 

“ENSO’s mission is to disrupt the £200billion global tyre industry and deliver the most efficient, durable and sustainable tyres for EVs.  By developing better EV tyres, we can reduce pollution and carbon emissions in line with the UK, and indeed global commitments, to reach Net-Zero.”  

“Ultra-low energy consumption per mile means that our EV tyres not only save cost and electricity but also improve vehicle operations while dramatically extending EV-range, moving the tyre industry truly into the electric age.” 

Rikesh Shah, TfL’s Head of Commercial Innovation, said: ‘We’re really excited that our London FreightLab Innovation Challenge has helped to produce this partnership between DPD and ENSO, which is helping us to explore how to make tyres more sustainable, durable and efficient.” 

“London FreightLab is a completely new way of looking at freight for TfL and it is fantastic to see innovative products such as EV-tyres in action on the capital’s streets, helping to extend the life of tyres on electric vehicles, which are a vital part of reducing air pollution in London.” 


Yodel reports buoyant 2020

Over the first half of the 2020-21 financial year, independent carriers Yodel saw parcel volumes increase by 26% by comparison to the same period in 2019. The company projects revenues of around £535 million for the full year ending in June, up from £500 – £520 million forecast at the last trading update.

Other highlights of the financial year to date include Yodel taking on 3,000 new roles for the 2020 peak season, and landing new business with major online retailers including Lush, Pandora, JD Sports, Dunelm, Hello Fresh, Beer 52, Limar trading, Kingstown associates, Pasta Evangelists, and Borough Box.

End customers have shown their praise through an increased Trustpilot rating that has now raised to 4.5/5.

Mike Hancox, CEO of Yodel, commented: “We have made a very strong start to the FY21 financial year, which continues the significant progress made over the past couple of years. During what has been an extremely challenging period for many people, we’re proud that we’ve been able to play a vital role in keeping the country moving.

“Thanks to the tireless work of our colleagues up and down the country, together with the adaptability of our network, our performance has again improved beyond expectations and we fully expect to deliver a strong PBT result in FY21.

“Technology has played a key role in supporting our colleagues to be able to perform so well. We have launched a new driver app that will improve efficiency and lead to an improved final mile experience for our customers.

“Our existing client base continues to grow strongly, and we have a robust pipeline of new business for the rest of FY21 and beyond. We’ve also grown the volumes of our key ‘everyday premium’ sectors such as fresh food, wine and flowers.

“The health and safety of our colleagues and the public has been a key priority for us as a business, and we’ve continued to ensure that our sites are COVID-19 safe, as well as carrying on with the ‘contactless deliveries’ that we introduced at the start of the pandemic.”


Posti prepares for record peak season

Finnish Posti is preparing for a record Christmas peak season with volumes of up to 2 million parcels a week passing through its network.

Research by the postal operator suggests that Black Friday is likely to see parcel volumes grew by 150% as against 2019. “We predict that the coming shopping days and Christmas shopping will take place online even more than before. If our forecasts are correct, we will deliver almost 1.5 million weekly parcels during the peak season and, at most, almost two million parcels a week. In the current situation, many customers want to avoid busy stores and order shopping directly to their homes instead. Our Doorstep service has been extremely popular, and I believe that the demand will increase, especially if the COVID-19 situation gets worse,” says Tommi Kässi, Vice President, Parcel and eCommerce at Posti.

As well as bringing in 2,500 temporary staff, Posti has looked at improving the efficiency of the network. Weekend deliveries are to begin soon, while a parcel pick-up/drop off (PUDO) network of 850 convenience stores, 2,200 parcel lockers and an additional 200 temporary PUDO points to be put in place across the country.

“We have increased our pick-up point capacity by more than 30 percent this year. We are doing everything in our power so that as many people as possible receive their parcels at the location they have chosen. Unfortunately, if parcel lockers are full, some parcels will have to be redirected to the second nearest available pick-up point instead of the nearest one. This means the recipient will receive their parcel faster. We hope that parcels are picked up as soon as possible from the notice of arrival to free up space for other parcels,” says Kässi. 


PostNord to pilot Swipbox parcel locker network in Sweden

In autumn PostNord Sweden is to test Swipbox Infinity parcel lockers as part of a pilot in Stockholm. This will mean that the Swipbox Infinity solution will have reached every country in Scandinavia.

Helena Sjöberg, Last Mile Business Developer at PostNord commented: “As the parcel lockers are Bluetooth operated, the parcel lockers’ compartments are opened with PostNord apps on the couriers’ and end users’ phones. We experience huge demand for new last mile solutions and that is why we are happy to start trialling this new concept. Parcel lockers are a good complement to our existing delivery options (PUDOs and home deliveries), and we’re excited to see the feedback from the market.”

The Swipbox, app-operated parcel lockers run on batteries thanks to there being no requirement for a mains source or internet connection.

Allan Kaczmarek, Founder of SwipBox, said: “We are happy to present this new last mile network to PostNord and the Swedish people, and we have no doubts that the intuitive solution will increase the convenience for the shoppers in Sweden. I’m also very proud to announce that with this collaboration, we are now represented in all of Scandinavia with our SwipBox Infinity solution.”

While in some cases the Swipbox parcel lockers are carrier-agnostic, since PostNord is running these, only the postal operator is to use the lockers in Sweden. After the initial pilot there are plans to roll them out across the country.