UPS invests in British same-day courier planning US launch

The strategic venture capital fund of global integrator UPS has invested in UK same-day courier company Shutl, which now plans to launch its services in the US. Shutl launched in London in 2010, making a name for itself with rapid deliveries of ecommerce purchases, offering deliveries in 90 minutes or a one-hour delivery window.

It has spent the past year expanding, and currently delivers to about 65% of UK households.

The company revealed today that UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund was one of the leading players in a GBP 2m investment round for the company, along with existing investors that include early-stage venture capital firm Hummingbird Ventures and La Poste’s international parcel company GeoPost.

Shutl said it will use the new investment to expand its engineering team and boost efforts to attract new retail customers, as well as its US launch planned for early 2013.

Tom Allason, Shutl founder and CEO, said: “We’ve spent this last year taking Shutl national across the UK, now we are ready for the US, a market that we estimate will be worth around $26bn by 2016.”


Shutl founder and CEO Tom Allason has his eye on a $26bn ecommerce delivery market in the US

Shutl said as part of the new investment round, UPS Europe vice president of strategy Joe Mozzali and GeoPost executive vice president (and DPD GmbH managing director) John Acton will join the Shutl board of directors as observers.

Exploratory

UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund is the “exploratory” private equity investment division of Atlanta-based UPS, established in 1997 to invest in companies in emerging markets and technologies, which may end up helping develop new capabilities for UPS itself.

The Fund’s current portfolio includes a cold chain packaging technology developer, supply chain software company and a RFID technology developer among others.

The Shutl investment comes shortly after UPS itself acquired Benelux-based ecommerce collection network Kiala, which it also acquired in part to expand its knowledge base and capabilities in ecommerce. Shutl’s new board member Joe Mozzali is currently leading efforts to integrate Kiala into UPS.

Shutl USA

Shutl is planning on continuing to expand within the UK as it also launches in the US, where it has its eye on the growth ecommerce market, with the likes of Amazon and eBay currently exploring the potential of same-day delivery options for their customers.

The company said having UPS on board would give it some “local knowledge” with respect to the US launch. A spokesman told Post&Parcel that Shutl was currently undecided on exactly which US cities would be involved within its initial plans, though there is a possibility for multiple cities to be included in the launch.

Shutl is now keen to hear from potential US partners including ecommerce merchants and ground transportation providers.

In Britain, the company currently delivers for retailers including Argos, Maplin, Coast, Oasis, Karen Millen and Warehouse.

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