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COVID-19 bringing mixed bag for courier companies

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The country's largest courier company expects revenues to be down 30 per cent when New Zealand moves into lockdown level 3 next week.

That's despite the surge in demand from retail and hospitality sectors couriering their goods to customers in an effort to keep their businesses afloat under the lockdown restrictions.

CourierPost driver Meyer Peteli says lockdown has been hectic.

He says it's been at least as busy as the Christmas period for residential courier drivers - when volumes nearly double.

"I mean this is on level 4 lockdown and we're just getting pumped, imagine what happens when it's level 3."

While on the ground Peteli is rushed off his feet, for some firms at the company level it has been a different story.

Freightways is the biggest courier company in the country - its brands include New Zealand Couriers, Post Haste Couriers, Sub 60 and a bunch of others.

Chief executive Mark Troughear says volumes halved when the country went into lockdown.

The big change was a plummet in lucrative deliveries between businesses where multiple items were picked up and dropped off at once.

"The big difference when you go to a residential address is that you're usually delivering a single item and you're not picking anything up.

"And then you've got to get back in your van, travel down a road before you find the next address that you're delivering to."

He says the increase from online shopping and food deliveries during lockdown did not fill the gap and they were feeling the pain.

"If you think about 30 depots dotted around New Zealand, if you think about 75 B-trains or truck and trailer units connecting the country together, and then if you think about 1100 couriers.

"The reality is you need to keep the network running to be able to deliver essential goods and services, but when you take half the volume out, yes it hurts you pretty deeply in that short-term period."

Mark expects volumes to stay 30 per cent down under lockdown level 3, and 10 per cent down at level 2.

Rebound in business welcomed

But there is a rosier outlook for Aramex - formerly Fastway Couriers.

Company chief executive Scott Jenyns says volumes did drop off a cliff when lockdown started - down by a whopping 70 per cent.

But as businesses got their heads around how to do online sales and the government's lockdown rules Aramex has rebounded to about 20 per cent down.

"We had a very strong Easter trading and last weekend was very very strong, with a lot of our loyal customers and new customers coming on and trading in an online environment.

"There's been some really good success stories come out of some local businesses that have evolved into an e-commerce world."

He expects his company to get ''significant trade'' as the country drops down lockdown levels - with Aramax Australia's 30 per cent boost in revenue in recent weeks a pleasing signal.

"That's giving us a good steer that when we come out into alert level 3, and if we all play our part, to level 2, there is some significant upside for local business in New Zealand.

"We're looking at scaling the business … to be able to cater for that capacity."

That means taking on new drivers, and Scott says they will be doing recruitment campaigns across the company to attract new franchisees.

-RNZ/Hamish Cardwell.

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