DHL Leipzig hub

Last week The Hub was invited to take a look inside DHL Express’s own (air) hub in Leipzig, Germany, to witness just how large the international express parcels market has become.

The Leipzig hub is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, serving over 80 countries on the Continent and neighbouring regions. It operates both air and road fleets.

DHL Express’s European chief executive John Pearson estimates that its active customers currently total around 1.7 million and, last year, the division processed around 223 million parcels heading to destinations all over the world.

The Leipzig operation proves just how much internet shopping has contributed to the cross-border parcels market over recent years and the firm is certainly not standing still when it comes to preparing for the forecast increase in volumes in the years to come.

Loop to loop

Next year the hub’s enormous three-loop sorting system, which can currently process 15,000 parcels in a 15-minute period, will be equipped with a fourth loop in time for Christmas 2014, increasing capacity futher.

Although most of the parcels come into the hub via the DHL air fleet, many of the parcels with destinations on the Continent will leave Leipzig in one of its fleet of vans.

110 courier drivers are currently controlled from the hub, just a small share of its estimated total owned and subcontracted road fleet of 17,500 vehicles across Europe.

Pearson says the firm’s profit passed the €1bn mark last year, despite being in the red just four years ago. This suggests just how well DHL is doing in the express market, especially considering rival TNT’s 26% drop in EMEA profit earlier this year.