There are Still 13 Companies Operating Significant Parcels Networks in the UK

Date: 2015-11-10

Despite some consolidation in recent years, there are still 13 companies operating significant parcels networks in the UK. The largest by revenue are the Royal Mail / Parcelforce, with latest parcels revenue of £3.162bn, UPS (£768m), DHL (£746m) and TNT Express (£743m).

Over the last four years, the Royal Mail, UPS, DPD, Interlink, Hermes and Tuffnells have all grown at a rate of more than 5% per year. DPD and its sister company, Interlink, have performed particularly well with market-leading IT both enhancing service to make it a premium B2C carrier, and reducing costs by improving home delivery success rates. During the same period, three carriers have seen their revenue decrease: DHL (due to a major divestment), TNT (following the aborted UPS takeover) and DX/Nightfreight (as unprofitable, legacy business has been exited as part of the turnaround).

Different carriers have variations in their market focus (eg international vs domestic, B2B/B2C/C2X, large/heavy items, etc) and their business models (eg use of self-employed couriers / owner-drivers, size of depots, use of franchised depots, automated vs manual handling processes, direct trunking vs hub and spoke, use of cage sort and parcel shops).

Business model variations exist for both historical reasons and to provide a better fit with the company’s strategy and the requirements of the segments on which it wishes to focus. For example, the integrators tend to have larger depots than domestic players, while franchised depots can work well in serving smaller customers at the local level and self-employed couriers are widely used for home delivery. Key objectives of operating model features are often to improve consolidation of pick-up and delivery, align incentives or minimise handling of parcels.

The operators with high exposure to e-retail deliveries and those with international networks have increased their overall share of revenues at the expense of standalone UK players with a traditional B2B focus. However the picture is more complex and there have been winners and losers across the segments. Further change in market share is likely in the coming year as the networks continue to compete, growth between segments varies and customers formerly served by City Link find new carriers.

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