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A Tale of two City(s)

The festive period is always a busy time at CitySprint, but the announcement of City Link’s collapse on Christmas Day led to an extra surge of activity, as clients looked for immediate support with scheduled logistics and sought new distribution partners.
The lens of the media remained focussed on the sector as we entered the New Year, which in some cases led to confusion between the two “Citys” – CitySprint and City Link. We’ve experienced this mistaken identity for many years having dealt with a number of City Link customer queries but in fact we couldn’t be more different.

CitySprint is a same day delivery network, rather than a next day delivery network – and the differences between the two are vast. Most next day carriers, such as City Link, operate a “Hub & Spoke” model, introduced by Fred Smith of Fedex back in the ‘70s. In this model, parcels are collected and consolidated in a large centralised depot before being trucked overnight to regional, centralised depots for local multi-drop delivery. It is a system with very little flexibility.

Our network is anything but centralised. For example, CitySprint service centres operate as local businesses, supporting every function - right down to the call centre. We believe that a national network handling critical, time-sensitive deliveries relies on local staff. This approach has not only introduced a high level of entrepreneurship to our business but increases our flexibility and ability to react dynamically to changing circumstances.

Our business has also undergone consistent, commercially sustainable growth, ensuring our cash-positive position supports investment such as our market-leading technology. Unfortunately, City Link suffered from a lack of investment in its technology platform, which allowed competitors to outmanoeuvre it until ‘price’ became the only means of differentiation.

We’re also committed to investing in people. CitySprint couriers are amongst the highest earners in the sector and we have introduced several staff incentive programmes over the last few years, including: improved holiday allocation; a ride2work scheme; cash plans; travel season ticket loans; childcare support and NVQ accreditations, to name just a few. This may seem like an obvious move, but when a business is losing significant amounts of money it slips rapidly down the priority list.  

There are almost always victims of circumstance when businesses fall into administration, and since the closure of City Link we have recruited several ex-City Link couriers and staff. It is already clear that it was an organisation of high quality employees, which makes it an even greater shame that it was unable to succeed. I am delighted to welcome these individuals to the CitySprint business and look forward to them contributing to a bright future.

There may have been be a ‘City’ in City Link - and they certainly distributed parcels - but for us, the comparison stops there. 

Patrick Gallagher, Chief Executive of CitySprint (UK) Limited

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