Royal Mail is now using automation to sort 26% of its parcels, more than twice the percentage it did a year ago.
The UK postal giant revealed the figures in its Q2 financial results, which showed that group revenues were up 5.1% to £5.2 billion while profits after tax rose from £5 million to £153 million in the first half of the year.
The automation machines are now present in 16 mail centres. The half year has also seen Royal Mail begin designing the technical fit-out of its first dedicated parcel hub in Warrington, which it aims to bring online in the 2022-23 financial year.
The company said it had identified a site for its second parcel hub in the Midlands and was exploring options for its third and final hub.
Royal Mail also said it had made progress on introducing technologies to aid the delivery process, including a digital routing tool.
However, the company’s CEO Rico Back said that it was behind on its £1.8 billion transformation plan, announced in May, which aims to turn Royal Mail into a “parcel-led business” by 2024 as letter volumes continue in a predicted decline.
“People are posting fewer letters and receiving more parcels. We have to adapt to that change. The challenging financial outlook in the UK means now, more than ever before, we need to make the changes required – and accelerate them – to ensure a successful UK business.
“We remain committed to investing £1.8 billion in our transformation. We want to change, working with our unions, but we can only do so through an affordable resolution. We have changed many times before. We will do it again.”
As Back points out, the company’s efforts to align standards with rivals such as DPD and UPS are bringing it into conflict with unions, who oppose the longer working hours.
The union had voted in favour of striking, which could have impacted Royal Mail services during the upcoming General Election and during the peak retail season.