Home shopping retailers fear festive delivery crisis

Home shopping retailers are facing a crisis this Christmas after cutbacks in Parcelforce's delivery service have left the home delivery market with the prospect of being unable to deliver.

Parcelforce decided earlier this year to reduce or cancel its parcel delivery service to customers, including home shopping giant N Brown, catalogue retailer Lakeland and DIY-based Screwfix Direct. Further cuts were made last month.

Although the retailers have appointed new delivery companies, Lakeland marketing director Julian Rayner said the short notice given by Parcelforce has left the home shopping industry facing a potential crisis in the run-up to Christmas. 'In my view, there is not enough capacity now in the industry as a whole to cope with the demand over Christmas,' he said.

Another home shopping specialist source, who asked not to be named, said the problems will begin now and worsen by Christmas. He said that until the delivery industry had time to react and fill the void, which would not be this year, next-day parcel delivery could become unfeasible.

James Roper, chief executive of e-tailing association IMRG, said he believes the situation is a major cause for concern.

N Brown, which has developed its own fleet of more than 1,000 delivery vehicles, has signed up both Business Express and Securicor since the move by Parcelforce in an effort to reduce its reliance on one delivery supplier.

A spokesman for Business Express said the establishment of multi-carrier solutions provider MetaPack is evidence that the market is moving to multiple delivery service providers.