Delivering the keynote address at the World Mail and Express (WMX) Europe conference in London this week, Sue Whalley, the newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer of Post and Parcels, Royal Mail UK, outlined the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the postal industry as it looks to transform itself into the engine of the e-commerce boom.
Whalley, who officially took on her new role at the start of this month, saluted the efforts of her colleagues at Royal Mail – and at other postal companies – because they have had to undertake a fundamental business transformation whilst still delivering a vital service six days a week. Offering a striking analogy, Whalley said: “We have to fly the plane on time, efficiently, safely – and rebuild the plane while we fly it!”
Like postal operators the world over, Royal Mail has transformed itself from a mail carrier into a parcels operator which also delivers mail. And in order to do this, Whalley explained, Royal Mail has had to make significant investments in innovation -simultaneously embracing automation, modernising its delivery fleet, and redefining the role of almost everyone in the company.
Importantly though, Whalley emphasized that pursuing opportunities in the parcel sector did not mean the company was underestimating the important of its post. “At Royal Mail,” said Whalley, “we are absolutely committed to promoting the value of letters.”
Whalley flagged up the important work that the joint industry committee JICMAIL is doing to provide metrics that can demonstrate the commercial value of direct mail.
Zoltan Illes, CEO of Magyar Post; Francisco de Lacerda, CEO of CTT Correios de Portugal; Garrett Bridgeman, Managing Director, Mails and Parcels Division with An Post; and Achim Dunnwald, CEO of DHL Parcel Europe, also gave their perspectives on how the industry can balance the need to maintain and modernize their traditional postal business, whilst also exploring new innovations in areas such as e-commerce and postal banking.
The conference next featured a highly-topical sesson on the implications of Brexit for the UK and Europe.
Lord Callanan – the Minister of State for Exiting the Europe Union – presented the UK government’s view on how the negotiations with the European Commission (EC) are progressing. Then James Hookham, Deputy Chief Executive of the Freight Transport Association (FTA), and William Bain, a policy advisor with the British Retail Consortium, looked at the various scenarios and timeframes that could result from a “non-deal”, “hard” or “soft” Brexit.
Hookham pointed out that there are probably many “Brexiteers” who voted for the UK to leave the European Union (EU) institutions without considering the full implications of the UK also leaving the customs union and the single market. Hookham stressed that if the UK government wants to “Keep Britain Trading” it will have to find ways to maintain “frictionless trade” and allow for continued access to EU workers by UK employers, because a sizeable percentage of truck drivers and warehouse staff come from outside the UK.
The afternoon programme began with a session on “breaking down barriers to cross border”, with contributions from Whistl CEO Nick Wells; IPC CEO Holger Winklbauer; Peer Bentzen, EVP Business Development with Deutsche Post; and a joint presentation by Hokan Thoren of Siemens Postal, Parcel & Airport Logistics (SPPAL) and Markus Guler of Swiss Post.
In yesterday’s final session, the spotlight fell on recent innovations and technologies that are driving greater efficiencies in the post and parcel business, with contributions from Ocado’s Head of Concept Development Sverker Lindbo; Peter Howes, President – Productivity Products with Honeywell; OpenPricer Founder and CEO Daniel Rueda; and Far Eye’s COO and Co-Founder Gautam Kumar.
Yesterday’s programme concluded with the World Post & Parcel Awards. Click here to see details on all the winners.