DHL Express park royal

DHL Express has upgraded and expanded all but 10 of its 38 UK service centres, with the most recent site opening in Park Royal, north west London, last week.

UK CEO, Phil Couchman, told MT that the company plans to complete its infrastructure upgrade by early 2016.

This includes the development of a new "Southern hub" in late 2015 which will replace its current site in Hounslow, Heathrow service centre and its head office.

The £5m Park Royal site opened last week and takes its space in the area from 16,000ft²to 61,000ft², following an increase in the volumes in the region. The site is now capable of processing around 3,500 parcels per night, and vehicles will be able to load and unload inside the building.

“DHL expanded Park Royal because it is either the busiest or second busiest [site] in the UK. We’ve experienced huge growth in the shipments here and the one we’ve just moved out of was way under capacity, so we had just outgrown it dramatically,” Couchman said.

On top of the £5m investment in the lease on the site, DHL has also invested £1.3m in equipment, including an automated sort system capable of processing 1,800 parcels an hour.

"We’ve just started work in the new Southampton one this week and in a week or two we’ll have the new Gatwick one up and running. They’ll be the same sort of configuration as [Park Royal]," Couchman added.

He also revealed plans for upgrades at its East Midlands Airport hub, where the service centre and hub will be consolidated, plus expanding its Manchester Airport site. However, it does not anticipate opening any new sites, other than replacing satellite depots with larger facilities.

DHL has also recently completed upgrades in Oxford, Telford, Gatwick and Maidstone, which Couchman believes are well positioned to handle this year’s Christmas peak, along with additional capacity at Heathrow, which was added last year.

“We’ve got flexibility now, we’ve got more options,” he said. “I am very confident in our ability to be able to handle this Christmas peak.”