Celebrating 15 years – Swiss Post International UK
The Mail & Express Review’s John Modd speaks to Swiss Post International UK CEO Paul Taylor about his business and the wider international mail market.The UK’s international mail market has for long been very competitive, and it has not always been easy to make decent returns.
Recently celebrating its 15th anniversary operating in the United Kingdom, Swiss Post International (SPI) UK has undoubtedly become one of the more successful players in the market.
MER: Tell us something about SPI’s activities in the UK, and how they have evolved.
Taylor: We operate from two sites and employ 112 full time employees. Our facility at Heathrow handles approximately 10m kilos of mail per annum; and the one in Southampton around 10m items.
We have a presence throughout the UK either with our own sales force or through our Premium Partners, SPI Direct Entry Ltd based in Slough, and SPI North Ltd. in Halifax. Through these partnerships we can offer additional services that complement our core portfolio, such as customisation of mailings for local markets.
When we started in 1996 we focused on the wholesale (consolidator) market. In 2000 we established the mail conveyance business, which has proven to be successful. As well as streamlining the organisational structure, during my period as CEO I have taken a number of significant strategic decisions regarding our market position and the services we offer.
In 2010 we entered directly into the retail (originating business customers) market to take advantage of market opportunities.
Our reputation and brand made the move into retail the next natural stage for us. Also in 2010 we acquired MCM Direct Ltd, which offers a range of value added services such as database management, laser printing, enveloping, and polywrapping, for both domestic and international markets.
This year we established a retail presence in the Republic of Ireland for the first time, through a partnership with Nightline, a leading express and courier company.
SPI UK’s focus is clearly on providing high quality, flexible and innovative products and services to meet the needs of both wholesalers and retail customers in their global communications with end customers. Our products support in particular the needs of distance sellers and press and publishers.
SPI UK obviously has access to the worldwide Swiss Post logistical chain. Heathrow itself is a major trans-shipment hub, and we have a Department for Transport regulated high security site. SPI UK dispatches mail directly to 140 countries daily and some 172 weekly. Over thirty international post offices also transship through our Heathrow hub.
MER: You mentioned Swiss Post’s worldwide logistics chain. Explain a little more about Swiss Post’s overarching international strategy.
Taylor: Swiss Post is very active in cross border markets, for mail and small goods. It is focused on penetrating the European market and targeting profitable opportunities for growth in other countries. The aim is to increase added value through an expansion of services by interlinking with our customers’ distribution and logistic processes.
The Swiss Post brand strategy is to be seen as a dynamic, innovative and flexible company. With our global sales strategy we focus on press and publishers, distance selling, finance and tourism and public postal operators (PPO’s) and consolidators. SPI UK’s main markets are press and publishers, distance selling, finance, and PPO’s.
MER: How would you describe the current state of the UK outbound market? How do you differentiate yourself?
Taylor: There is still plenty of volume to be had in both the wholesale and retail sectors. We are experiencing increasing retail volumes, and remarkable growth in the B2C sector.
Our differentiation strategy is about adding value. We offer an excellent customer focus. Our quality of service reflects our Swiss parentage: professional, reliable, flexible, efficient and transparent are words I would use. We continually evolve our products and services to keep up to date with the changing needs of our customers. We work with a number of partners for direct entry and alternative delivery solutions complementing our core products and services. We also differentiate ourselves from our competitors by providing a onestop shop for fulfilment.
MER: How do you see the international outbound market evolving over the next fifteen years?
Taylor: I believe there will be further contraction in international mail volumes. However, there is still growth in direct marketing and e-commerce here in the UK.
I believe the e-commerce market is still in its infancy, and over time there will be a trend to move away from the traditionally more expensive delivery solutions of courier and express and towards mail, as distance sellers look for more cost effective delivery options. SPI will continue to identify and seize market opportunities. I believe that our innate flexibility has enabled us to evolve as markets change and clients’ needs alter.
Looking beyond Europe, the increasing size of the distance selling market in Asia, a market that is still in its infancy, will provide us with growth opportunities. We have been working for some time in India, Hong Kong and Singapore. Our partnerships with local postal operators mean we have the right local presence and knowledge to help distance sellers of high end products to ensure controlled logistics and an effective inbound and outbound delivery pipeline. As the internet penetrates further into Asia, SPI is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities.
Paul Taylor joined SPI UK as Chief Financial Officer in March 2007. He was appointed CEO in April 2008. Previously he was with DHL Global Mail UK Ltd for nine years.
Source: Mail & Express Review