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Yodel buckles under Black Friday pressure

Delivery company Yodel has been forced to halt collections from its distribution hubs as a result of record breaking Black Friday sales, despite hiring a dedicated team to handle the peak trading season.

The centres, used by the likes of Marks & Spencer, Shop Direct and Mamas & Papas, will be closed until Monday as Yodel tries to work through a backlog 26% higher than it expected based on forecasts provided by clients.

Drapers’ sister title Retail Week has seen a letter to retailers from Yodel’s executive chairman Dick Stead to retailers, which reads: “This is not a decision that we have taken lightly but one that we have had to take to protect service levels.”

A notice on the company’s website says: “We continue to receive an extremely high number of parcels as a result of the seasonal sales. We’re working hard to get your orders to you asap, but some may experience a slight delay in arriving.”

In November, Yodel bulked up its workforce with a 5,000-strong dedicated ‘peak planning team’ to handle the anticipated surge in orders. Yodel said it expected to handle 15% more parcels than in the same period in 2013 and had “invested heavily in its operation to meet demand”.

Other pre-emptive plans included establishing a control tower at its central sorting facility, sourcing an extra 200 heavy goods vehicles and 500 trailers to carry out trunking between clients’ warehouses, and extending operational hours. It also added 13 sites to its existing 60 locations around the UK.

At the time, Stead commented: “For our retail clients this vital season is known as the ‘golden quarter’ and we are fully prepared for parcel volumes to reach record levels.”

While some outbound parcels to customers have been delayed for up to 72 hours, Yodel says there is no suspension to its delivery service.

However, communications manager of Shop Direct Gemma Goldfingle said: “It is currently affecting around half of the parcels due to be delivered directly from our suppliers.”

A spokesperson said it is currently working with clients on forecasts for the coming weeks.

Readers' comments (1)

  • This was a predictable outcome and suggests customers have still, in the majority, been ordering for home delivery as opposed to 'click and collect' at another location.

    Perhaps the one benefit of Black Friday promos is to reduce the order / delivery peak just before Xmas? Otherwise a lot more customer complaints if they don't arrive prior to 25th Dec.

    Thankfully we've had little bad weather. You can foresee a 'perfect storm' at some stage really causing a headache.

    Clothing wise, it will be interesting to see how returns affect operations. I think that's the next predictable issue... along with refund complaints.

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