Courier firm Yodel is hiring almost 7,000 drivers as it gears up to deal with increased demand during the Christmas period.

Yodel is creating 800 roles for directly employed drivers, but will also take on 3,000 owner-drivers and 3,000 self-employed couriers to collect and deliver smaller parcels. Many of the positions are likely to become permanent following the festive season.

The recruitment drive came after Yodel was forced to suspend collections from distribution hubs last December following an unprecedented surge in demand after Black Friday.

As previously reported by Retail Week, Yodel executive chairman Dick Stead wrote to clients, including a number of retailers, explaining that there would be no collections from distribution centres for a number of days.

On the creation of the new jobs to cope with demand this year, Stead said: “Our recent research has shown that the 2015 Christmas period is set to break the mould once again, with nearly four times as many people planning to take advantage of the Black Friday online promotions.

“Our recruitment and training will support this increased demand and ensure that both our retail clients and shoppers have an enjoyable Christmas.

“Many of the vacancies are flexible and perfect for those who want to fit work around families, or who have retired but want to remain active and earn some extra cash. Others are full-time and we expect many people to stay on beyond peak season.”