Royal Mail Set to Trial Sunday Delivery

3 June 2014

Royal Mail has announced plans to begin trialing a Sunday delivery service for parcels, beginning later this summer. The move is largely a response to the increase in online shopping by UK consumers, which requires the delivery of many more parcels across the UK. Royal Mail alone currently handles over one billion parcels a year and the company now earns over half its UK revenue through parcels.

Royal Mail will begin by opening around 100 of its 1,400 delivery offices on a Sunday afternoon so that customers can call in to pick up their parcels. The company’s delivery offices are currently open from Monday to Friday and also on Saturday mornings. As well as offering Sunday access to offices with the highest parcel volumes, Royal Mail said it would also trial parcel deliveries to addresses within the M25 motorway, including London. In addition, the company announced it would keep its distribution network open later during the weekend. As a result, customers who order online at the weekend are more likely to receive their parcels on Monday rather than later in the week.

Parcelforce Worldwide – the firm’s express parcels division that handles larger and more valuable parcels – is also beginning a Sunday delivery service in June, although this will only be available for online shoppers through participating e-retailers. Contract customers across the UK will be able to take advantage of the new service, and can opt to receive a text message notifying them of their delivery 30 to 90 minutes beforehand.

According to Royal Mail’s chief executive Moya Greene, reaching agreement with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) was an important step towards extending working hours to meet increasing customer demand:

“Through these new Sunday services we are exploring ways to improve our flexibility and provide more options for people to receive items they have ordered online. The support of the Communication Workers Union has enabled us to respond quickly to a changing market, underlining the importance of the ground-breaking Agenda for Growth agreement.”

Dave Ward, the CWU deputy general secretary, also voiced support for the changes: “Royal Mail’s announcement about expanding delivery and collection services to seven days a week is an exciting innovation which we welcome.

“We appreciate that in order to stay competitive in a broadly unregulated sector Royal Mail has to expand its services to its customers. We believe that offering Sunday delivery and collection services is the right response from the company. With ever-increasing numbers of people opting to shop online, Sunday services are necessary to deal with the growing demand in parcel delivery.”

Mr. Ward added that the union would seek to ensure that all affected postal workers receive good terms and conditions and that, wherever possible, Sunday work is performed on a voluntary basis.

Although Royal Mail’s Sunday service trial has been prompted by an increase in online shopping, rival firms such as Hermes and DPD have also announced plans to deliver on Sundays. With some of its rivals undercutting the company on price, it is especially important for Royal Mail to be seen as responsive to customer demands and extend delivery times to match them.

Royal Mail was privatised in October last year and announced its first annual results as a public company last month.



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