Christmas shopping has started early in the UK, according to the boss of courier company Yodel, who is rushing to hire additional drivers for the festive peak.
Managing Director Mike Hancox said buyers are heeding warnings from retailers and logistics companies to buy ahead of supply chain delays and out of stock.
âThe last two weeks have been very important in categories like toys,â he told the Financial Times. “They [consumers] have already started shopping. Whether this leads to a longer seasonal period or pushes it forward, I’m not sure. “
He also said he was confident Yodel, Britain’s fifth-largest courier by parcel volumes, could find the 4,300 seasonal workers it needed for the pre-Christmas rush. Costs are likely to be higher this year, however, due to intense competition for staff.
“It is no small feat to hire so many people on a temporary basis,” he said. âThe question is, can we get them at the price we budgeted for or do we have to pay more than ever? We are working on the worst-case scenario, more than ever. “
The pandemic helped the company, which is owned by the billionaire Barclay family, achieve its first-ever pre-tax profit in the year ending June, a decade after launching. Hancox said deliveries of food, wine and feed in particular have increased.
Profitability is expected to continue in the current fiscal year despite higher cost pressures, he said. The company expects package volumes to exceed 200 million this fiscal year, up from 190 million last year.
Yodel’s workforce is split evenly among employees, contractors and independent couriers. It directly employs around 3,800 people.
Hancox said the company was hiring more staff directly because it had become expensive to outsource work. âIt is the agency market that has become dynamic, which is why we are employing more people,â he said.
Yodel has been doing well in attracting customers, he said, with recent gains including retailer JD Sports.
Hancox also said Yodel is not as passionate about electric vehicles as its rivals like DPD and Royal Mail, but instead focuses on more efficient combustion engine vehicles and electric cargo bikes to cut emissions instead. .
âIf green means buying electric vehicles, then that’s a huge expense. I don’t think that’s the right thing at the moment, âhe said. âWe don’t have the infrastructure in the UK to run an industrial fleet.