DHL Global Mail to close publishing sector operations in UK

DHL Global Mail is consulting with employees in the London area, with the intention of closing part of the business in the UK by March 2012. The company confirmed to Post&Parcel this afternoon that it launched a 90-day consultation with staff last month, proposing to shut down operations related to the wrapping and distribution of mail for the publishing sector.

The operations concerned involve the packaging of print materials, newspapers and magazines and the distribution of those items out of the UK.

The company said the closure looks likely to affect DHL’s sites in the Croydon and Bermondsey areas of London as well as in Egham, Surrey, which is also close to the UK capital. However, the exact nature of the impact of the move, including the affect on jobs, is still subject to the consultation with employees.

DHL Global Mail spokesperson Sabine Hartmann described the part of the business set for closure as a “very niche, specialised part of the business”.

She stressed that the rest of the DHL Global Mail business, and other DHL business units in the UK, will continue as normal.

“It’s true we are currently closing down part of the business of Global Mail in the UK, it’s a very specialised section of Global Mail that has been providing wrapping and distribution services for the publishing industry,” said Hartmann.

“As with any company, we are reviewing our business everywhere in the world on a regular basis, and we just found that this particular very niche part of the business is not commercially viable for us, and that is why we have proposed to cease these operations.”

Some of DHL Global Mail’s publishing sector clients in the UK have included international publisher Sage Publications, printer of more than 250 monthly academic journals, as well as Haymarket Publishing Services, one of the largest magazine publishers in the UK.

Rivals

DHL Global Mail’s rivals are already circling with hopes of picking up any publishing sector customers finding themselves cast adrift from their mailing services.

La Poste Group said today that several DHL Global Mail customers have already been in touch looking to find alternative fulfillment and distribution providers.

The French company has two operations in the UK, La Poste UK based in Slough, west of London, and BTB Mailflight, located to the north in Bedford, which was acquired by La Poste Group in 2008.

Ian Kavanagh, the chief executive of BTB Mailflight, said the decision by DHL Global Mail to withdraw from its publishing sector client base had come as a surprise since his company had completed a “very successful” 2011, and had been investing in its added value services and international distribution.

“Already a number of DHL Global Mail clients have been requesting proposals from us,” he said, “and we are working jointly with our sister organisation La Poste UK to offer our best value solution, whether that is fulfillment and postage, or just postal distribution.”

Frederic Petton, the managing director at La Poste UK, said there had been declining mailing volumes in the publishing market in particular, owing to the “tough economic climate”, but he insisted the sector was still “commercially viable”.

“We remain committed to working with this important sector,” he said. “We continue to be actively involved in supporting the Periodical Publishers Association to drive up industry standards.”

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