TNT Post incarnation Whistl suspends service, 2,000 jobs at risk
Delivery firm Whistl is the latest UK company to hit financial trouble in what is proving to be one of the most cutthroat industries going.
Whistl, who were formerly called TNT Post, announced it had suspended door-to-door delivery operations on Monday and are now consulting 2,000 staff on redundancy.
Nick Wells, chief executive of Whistl, wrote to staff informing them that their jobs were ‘at risk’ after private equity investors LDC failed to back an expansion of the end-to-end, or “E2E”, service, where the company sorts and delivers letters to the door rather than paying Royal Mail for the "last mile" service.
In a statement, the company said: “Following the announcement from LDC that it would not proceed with the proposed investment to fund further rollout of E2E we have now commenced an extensive review of the viability and potential for the rollout of an E2E postal delivery service in the UK.
“To stem the losses from the operations we have taken the difficult decision to suspend the current E2E service during the review process and all mail will now be delivered through our long-standing downstream access service until we have concluded the review.
"As part of this extensive review, we will begin consultations with the relevant employees who are affected by the suspension of the E2E service, and with their union representatives, with a view to identifying and exploring viable proposals to secure the continuation of this service."
Whistl is owned by Dutch operator PostNL and had been in talks with LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyd's Banking Group, to fund a major expansion.
LDC took the decision not to invest in the Whistl project due to the "ongoing changes in UK postal market dynamics and the complexity of the regulatory landscape". The Manchester Evening News carries what it says is a copy of the letter to employees, which says most of the staff were on zero-hours contracts and will not be paid during the consultation process.
This devastating news for the British workforce comes off the back of CityLink going out of business on Christmas Eve, with many workers finding out of the news of Christmas Day itself.
However, this latest news has brought about brighter consequences for Whistle and CityLink rivals. Royal Mail for example, have just experience a yearly peak in shares at 500p, which is still vastly more than the 330p it floated on the stock market in October 2013.
Stayed tuned into all Supply Chain Digital platforms for the latest developments in the cutthroat industry of British parcel delivery.
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.