4 minute read

Hermes focuses on good communication and flexibility to fight Covid-19


Hermes UK is looking for over 10.5K ‘parcel people’ to join its business as it invests £100 million to expand its capacity to meet the huge demand created by people shopping at home during lockdown and the continuing growth in the sector. Carl Lyon, Hermes’ Chief Operations Officer spoke to The Logistics Point about what is next for the company.

What conclusions have you drawn from the end of lockdown and how you performed?

It is no secret that when lockdown happenedevery business in every industry wasaffected. Initially our volumes started to slowdown but that continued just for the first couple of weeks. After that people started to get used to the ‘new normal’ and the reality that this would continue for a while, so they turned to online shopping. It helped them get what they needed and wanted.

To start with people ordered necessities like toiletries and food items, then garden and gym equipment before slowly returning to other items such as clothes. In just four weeks, we ramped up our capacity and we are now running at almost twice the volumes we handled before the lockdown.

In the carrier industry we are used tohandling a busy time from Black Fridaythrough to Christmas and we have a lot oflevers that we can pull in our operations toramp up for this, but we normally have moretime to plan!

As a result, we were able to adapt very well and brought in many of these principles whilst embedding a local customer service model. One of the positives was that the roads were clear and people were generally at home all the time so it made our deliveries easier.

How much of the new online demand will stay on?

Hermes has announced 10,500 new roles and we are building the equivalent of ten new sites. All of that is based on the fact that we think volumes will remain high, although it is hard to predict exactly.

How do you plan to cope with the increase in online demand and the traditional peak periods like Christmas?

We rely on good information from our retail customers to understand what they need and help predict volumes. We have a very strong central planning team that look at historic volumes, trends, and our network capacity. Flexibility within the network is key to be able to ride the peaks and support our retail customers.

What were the main problems that you faced during the lockdown and how did you deal with them?

From day one keeping our employees and network of couriers safe was key. For office staff this was more straightforward as we decided that they could all work at home and were able to achieve this in just 3 days.

This is something that often happens during our Christmas peak anyway to make the necessary room for temporary seasonal staff in the building where they can be trained and supervised.

The IT team were on hand to support this with new laptops and to provide the necessary tech support. We did the same for our ParcelShop support teams and our courier help desks.

In the depots we changed all our operating procedures to encompass social distancing in line with government guidelines along with increased hygiene measures. For couriers we implemented strict safety protocols at sub depots and were the first delivery company to introduce contactless deliveries. We have also implemented new safety protocols for our national network of ParcelShops which have seen volumes doubled. The main challenge was to ensure that we had the resources to handle the phenomenal volume of parcels as the UK public turned to home delivery to get what they needed.✷

Working from home

Hermes supported its employees during the lockdown. The company made a few key changes to its operations to facilitate working from home without sacrificing the quality of its service. ‘We adapted very quickly and did our best to use more technology so people can easily work from home,’ explains Carl Lyon. Тhe company has already spent over £5 million on PPE and seen a 20% reduction in staffing levels due to necessary operational changes, self-isolation and social distancing.

New recruits

The company is looking for around 1500 full-time staff, including some roles at its head office in Yorkshire, and throughout its UK network for drivers, warehouse operatives, managers and supervisors. There are also opportunities for another 9K self-employed couriers nationwide, who will have the option of becoming SE+ couriers with guaranteed holiday pay as part of Hermes ground-breaking deal with the GMB Union.

Carl Lyon

Carl Lyon is COO at Hermes UK, the leading consumer delivery specialist, delivering over 400 million parcels each year on behalf of the UK’s leading retailers. Lyon has been with the business for over 7 years in a number of senior operation roles including Operations Director. He has been a member of the Hermes UK main board for three years and has successfully developed its delivery model with the introduction of industry leading technology and the launch of SE+ - a new employment model for Hermes’ network of self-employed couriers. Carl also helped to create Hermes’ unique ParcelShop and locker network – the largest in the country. Prior to this, he held roles at Christian Salvesen, TNT Post and Post NL.