Royal Mail invests £32m in flagship mail centre in London
Royal Mail is investing GBP 32m in its largest and busiest mail centre, at Mount Pleasant in Central London, to turn the 120-year-old mail facility into a “world class” centre. The company revealed yesterday it has now completed a new fully-refurbished state-of-the-art mail centre on the ground floor of the existing building on the north side of the City of London.
The 18-month project was completed while the company continued to sort and despatch more than 1m items of mail a day across London.
Royal Mail said the new mail centre includes a reorganised layout with four intelligent Letter Sorting Machines (iLSMs) that sort mail into batches ready for six walk sorting machines to sequence items into walk order, to reduce manual sorting time for mail carriers.
The new machines sort mail collectively at up to 45,000 items per hour, improving on the previous 17 machines that had sorted around 25,000 items per hour.
The centre also boasts four refurbished machines for cancelling stamps on mail.
Royal Mail has installed four new intelligent Letter Sorting Machines at its refurbished Mount Pleasant mail centre
Royal Mail said the next phase of the Mount Pleasant site’s refurbishment is now underway, including repairs to the exterior and roof of the building, and the refurbishment of the first floor of the building, which will house delivery operations for the City and other parts of central London, currently operating from the basement of the building.
Parts of the 12-acre Mount Pleasant site could be sold off once all modernisation work has been completed, Royal Mail confirmed, with local planning authorities already consulting on the potential for the land to be used for new housing.
“This is now being progressed towards a planning application,” said Royal Mail. Local media reports have suggested Royal Mail could receive as much as GBP 1bn were it to sell half of the site.
The transformation efforts come as Royal Mail deals with declining mail volumes, handling 21m fewer letters per day now than it did five years ago, with volumes continuing to decline at around 5% a year. It also comes ahead of an expected privatisation of the company from late 2013.
As a result of all the changes at Mount Pleasant, the site is expected to require around 750 fewer staff to run by 2013. The site currently has around 900 full time and 400 part time staff.
The Mount Pleasant site is in the process of absorbing processing work from Royal Mail’s South London mail centre at Nine Elms and the East London mail centre at Bromley-by-Bow, which will close this summer.
Next year, Royal Mail will be moving its delivery operations for the West End and West Central London into Mount Pleasant, which are transferring over following last year’s GBP 120m sale of the Rathbone Place site.
The company’s reorganisation in the Greater London area will leave it with five remaining mail centres, at Mount Pleasant, Croydon, Greenford, Jubilee and Romford. The company said the process was now well under way, with outward collections moved from East London and International work now being done at Heathrow Worldwide Distribution Centre.
Ian Songhurst, the regional operations director for London at Royal Mail, said: “Mount Pleasant’s transformation reflects the massive change being undertaken across the whole company. This is key if we are to place the company on a sound, secure and stable footing so that we can provide a truly world class postal service that is fit for the 21st Century.”