Over the 2006-2012 period the UK courier services market grew by 9% to reach £16.3 billion by the end of 2012. However, fast-moving technological change and new ways of communicating represents a time of unprecedented challenge for the UK courier services sector.
The UK courier services market consists of two main sectors; the UK national post comprises Royal Mail -- which provides the UK's universal delivery service -- and private providers on national deliveries.
The second sector relates to international and national couriers and is non-regulated. While the national post as a sector is in decline owing to increased competition from digital mediums, the 'other' sector returned to growth after a poor 2009.
During the late 1970s small provincial and regional companies were popping up throughout the country. Today, there are many large companies offering next-day courier services, including City Link Ltd., DX Group and UK divisions of worldwide couriers such as FedEx, DHL, UPS and TNT.
The technical change unleashed by the internet has caused mail volumes to decrease and demand for parcels to grow. Due to regulatory change, the industry has the opportunity to reinvent itself. With the largest player bound by network commitments and increasing completion, the profitable way forward remains unclear.
The 'Man & Van'/Freelance courier business model, is highly popular in the United Kingdom, with thousands upon thousands of independent couriers and localised companies, offering next-day and sameday services.
This is likely to be so popular because of the low business requirements (a vehicle) and the lucrative number of items sent within the UK every day. However, since the dawn of the electronic age the way in which businesses use couriers has changed dramatically. Prior to email and the ability to create PDFs, documents represented a significant proportion of the business.
However, over the past 5 years documentation revenues have decreased by 50% . In addition customers are also demanding more from their courier partners.
For more information on the UK courier services market, see the latest research: UK Courier Services Market
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