Monday, October 19, 2009

Mail Strike Could be Boon for Haulage Industry

Smaller companies could benefit
Shipping News Feature

UK – Though the news that Royal Mail workers are to hold walkouts this week, with the possibility of more in the run up to Christmas, has triggered a storm of ‘doom-and-gloom’ stories in the British press the fact is that if industrial action is taken by the organisation it could provide a much needed boost to the UK’s hard-pressed freight and parcel delivery services.

During the last strike by Royal Mail staff in 2007 a number of express carriers actually reported that business boomed and with Amazon, one of the Royal Mail’s biggest customers, already stating that it is looking to switch service a number of freight firms anticipate the potential of improved business.

TNT, Britain's largest private mail operator, is already reported to be pressing ministers to allow it to put its own postmen on the streets in a door-to-door service which would directly compete in what to now has been the final redoubt of Royal Mail services – ‘final mail’ delivery.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper Nick Wells, chief executive of TNT Mail UK said: “It's a massive challenge on a huge scale but the reality is we have the customers, appetite and resources.”

Nor is it only the major operators who sense an opportunity. The sheer volume of freight carried by Royal Mail means there are new potential markets for smaller operators.

Malcolm White, General Manager of Harrogate-based UK Transport Services Ltd believes that: “There are a number of alternatives to the Post Office, most of which are more costly, but at a local level some solutions do exist.

“I think all transport company’s should see the ongoing problems at the Post Office as an opportunity but must be flexible and offer customer tailored solutions rather than ‘off the peg’ price lists which simply won’t meet the needs of most people.”

Whilst many (if not most) of the British public would be deeply saddened to see further reductions in the Royal Mail, there can be no doubt that if the organisation does not resolve it’s current crisis soon then a great vacuum in the British freight sector will be opened that must be filled. For those companies with the ambition and drive to attempt to do just that, then this crisis has golden potential.