New DHL plant opening in Milton Park, Didcot, opened by Rt Hon Ed Vaizey  Photo: Andrew Walmsley 01/02/13

DHL Express has opened a £1.5m service centre in Oxfordshire to meet growing demand from customers in the area.The 35,000ft² Abingdon depot opened last week (1 February) and is part of the international express parcel carrier’s close to £90m investment in its network over four years.

Regional year-on-year parcel volumes increased by a quarter in 2012, pushing the firm to increase capacity from its previous 7,000ft² Oxfordshire depot.

DHL Express UK and Ireland chief executive Phil Couchman told “Last year we grew over 25% and that was the indication of growth and the width of the custom that we’ve got here [in Oxfordshire].

“We’ve got steady growth in the business despite forecast economic conditions.”

The firm’s four year investment plan will see it increase capacity at all of its 38 service centres, spending £30m on its road network. Half of the upgrade is now complete, also it will also  spend £44m and £13m respectively on upgrading its air operations London Heathrow and East Midlands hubs.

Couchman believes the new site  will increase the operation’s efficiency (as much as 18%) as vehicles can be loaded and unloaded at the same time under one roof.

He said: “That is significant in terms of improving productivity for our customers and the cost of service.”

DHL also experienced its “best ever” Christmas peak in 2012, as a result of starting planning throughout the year and increasing resources if required.