European Parcels: Market Insight Report 2015

Published: June 2015
No. of Pages: 135
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Background to the report

The European parcels market has continued to grow in most countries in spite of the uncertain recovery from recession. A key factor has been the growth of home shopping. This has acted as a spur to innovation - in promoting the development of processes to improve the delivery experience, from defined time-slots, to text messages to the establishment of chains of parcel shops.

Home shopping growth looks set to continue, creating further opportunities for those companies which are able to deliver the quality and range of services that the market requires.

In this environment, industry consolidation has continued with FedEx making a major play to combine with TNT Express and other major networks continuing to make add-on acquisitions to fill geographical and service gaps in the European parcels market.

European Parcels Market Insight Report provides an analytical overview of the European Parcels market. It attempts to portray accurately the market structure, size, growth, trends and competitive landscape.

The report builds upon:

  • Apex Insight's published analysis on the UK parcels market and in adjacent logistics markets
  • Our consulting work in the industry which has included advising on market and strategic issues and the attractiveness of parcel company acquisitions

What does the report cover?

The report covers eight main countries in depth: Germany, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Poland.

  • These markets represent 75% of European GDP and, according to our market model, 79% of total parcels revenues.

The other countries included in our market model are Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Finland, Portugal, Ireland, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Slovak Republic, Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Serbia, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Estonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Albania, FYR Macedonia, Malta and Montenegro. The analysis excludes Russia and Turkey.

The definition of the European parcels market includes domestic, intra-European and international parcels. It also includes business-to-business, business-to-consumer and consumer consigned parcels. Parcel weight definitions vary, between operators and countries, but most describe parcels up to various weights approaching 31.5 kg. All service levels are included (time definite and deferred). Adjacent services, such as mail, pallet distribution, groupage, freight forwarding, sameday courier and contract logistics are excluded.

Changes since the previous version

This report has been completely updated and significantly extended since the previous edition in early 2014. This edition has around one third more pages. Significant additions and changes include the following

Updating of market size/growth estimates and all other figures in the report.

  • All company financials, economic statistics and other figures have been updated to include the latest data. In particular, figures relating to drivers of the market have been updated and our market size and growth estimates re-worked and revised accordingly.
  • Our ongoing work on the parcels sector has also allowed us to improve our market estimates by including some revenues from additional carriers and identifying, and therefore excluding, other non-parcels activity.

Creation of a European-wide competitor market map.

  • We have combined our best estimates of the sales of each of the leading carriers in each market with our market size estimates to produce a market map, or maremekko, which displays visually how each of the carriers is positioned across the leading countries of Europe.

Separate sections on the Netherlands and Belgium to replace ?Benelux' chapter.

  • Strong feedback from users of the previous version was that ?there is no such place as Benelux!'
  • Our research into the separate Dutch and Belgian markets confirms this, with very distinct trends, drivers and sets of competitors in each.
  • Accordingly, both countries now have their own separate chapters.

More detailed internet retail and B2C parcels information by country

  • In each of the country sections we have added more detail on our historical estimates and forecasts.
  • This includes yearly figures (2009-19) for national internet retail spend and revenues relating to B2C parcels

What is the methodology?

The main sources for the report are

  • Extensive desk research on the European parcels market and its operators covering company accounts, websites and other sources
  • Published information on key market drivers such as economic data and estimates of home shopping levels and practices
  • Interviews with senior-level contacts in the European parcels market

The key input to our market size estimates is a bottom-up analysis of the revenues of the parcel companies we have identified as operating in each of the main countries covered. Adjustments have been made to compensate for missing data and to reflect the extent to which these companies are involved in other logistics activities in addition to parcels.

We have used this data as the basis on which to construct our market model.

  • The model produces historical and forecast growth estimates covering the period from 2008-2018 which are based on trends in company revenue and drivers such as economic performance and levels and patterns of home shopping.
  • The main model inputs and assumptions are discussed in detail in the report.

Who is it useful for?

The report is intended for:

  • Owners and operators of parcel networks
  • Customers of those networks, in particular, retailers who sell via the internet
  • Investors in these businesses
  • Market regulators and policymakers
  • Banks, analysts, consultants and other parties with interests in the sector


Market context and trends

Apex Insight believes that the European parcels market was over ?50 billion in size in 2014, having grown in recent years despite the downturn - largely because of the increased demand from home shopping.

Growth has been fastest in Poland, where a fast-growing economy has adopted modern logistics practices, and the UK, where home shopping has had the greatest impact. It has been slowest in the more challenged economies of Southern Europe.

The European parcel market has been impacted by the patchy economic performance of recent years with those of Southern Europe suffering most as these economies struggle to recover from the effects of the Eurozone crisis.

Much of the volume growth in the European parcels sector is being driven by internet retailing. Total sales grew by over 15% to approach ?400bn in 2014.

  • The highest level of online shopping was found in the UK, where average spend per head was over ?2,600 in 2014,
  • France and Germany also represent very large markets
  • All markets are experiencing fast growth, ranging from 10-26%.

Key trends in the European parcels market include:

  • Growth in consumer delivery volumes from online shopping
  • More mixed performance in business-to-business volumes during the recent period of slow economic growth
  • Customer service innovations, in particular those which improve the final mile home delivery process.
  • Variations in operator financial performance and profitability with some operators making healthy margins while others, such as Mory Global and City Link, have been forced to exit the market
  • Gradual but ongoing increase in market concentration

Competitive landscape

The European parcels market is competitive and characterised by a range of operating models and ownership structures.

The European parcels market is served by a combination of integrators (UPS, DHL, FedEx, TNT), national postal operators (eg Royal Mail, La Poste, Deutsche Post, bpost , Poste Italiane, Correos, PostNL) some of which operate wider European networks (DHL, DPD, GLS), and independent (mainly national) parcel delivery companies (eg UKMail, Yodel, MRW, BRT, TIPSA, Hermes). There are also a number of road transport networks which act as alliances of national parcels operators to enable them to include international deliveries as part of their offering, such as Eurodis and Net Express.

Having mapped out the revenues of the companies in the countries where they operate, we believe that the three leaders are the national post offices of Germany, France and the UK, including their respective parcels operations (DHL, DPD and GLS).

  • The integrators follow, with UPS having now overtaken TNT, and FedEx some distance behind, followed by Hermes as the largest of the independents, and which has particular focus on home delivery.
  • The three largest post office owned groups and the integrators account for almost two thirds of the overall market, leaving a significant proportion still in the hands of smaller national post offices and independent operators.

An important development in the last year has been the entry of Amazon to the parcels market. It has taken stakes in two carriers, set up a UK joint venture for sameday delivery and set-up its own UK delivery capability using local courier partners.

Key trends

Many companies are actively marketing new customer service innovations that inform the customer about delivery progress and alternative options. Text message and smartphone apps are the mainstay of this wave of technological innovation. UPS has launched MyChoice, DPD operates Follow My Parcel and Predict and the Royal Mail has now rolled out text messaging, first trialled for 2012 Olympics tickets.

Networks of local collection points and secure lockers are being built up across Europe, driven by the growth in home deliveries.

  • There have been recent alliances and acquisitions in this area such as UPS's acquisition of Kiala; GLS and DHL partnering with Mondial Relay and PostNL providing international delivery capability for Collect Plus.
  • DHL's Packstation network is now extensive and others are introducing similar services including Austrian Post's Post.24-Station, Smartpost's self-service parcel terminals in Finland and Estonia, PostService's Latvian network of 39 self-service parcel terminals) and UK Network Rail's Doddle service.
  • InPost is more ambitious, having now rolled-out its network of lockers to 22 countries, mostly in Europe.

The gradual trend for the European parcels market to consolidate as independents are bought up by the larger players to fill specific gaps in networks has continued. There has also been a focus on acquiring companies to enhance services for the growing consumer segment.


Expectations of a more positive economic outlook than in the recent past as well as continued growth in home shopping bode well for the market and are reflected in our growth forecasts: the parcels market as a whole should benefit from recovery.

  • The UK and Poland are expected to continue to be the fastest-growing market and the outlook for Italy and Spain has improved significantly.
  • Our model suggests that consumer deliveries are likely to account for over a third of the overall market by 2019 and potentially a majority of deliveries in some countries.

Nevertheless, we believe there are risks to market growth, such as faltering of the weak economic recovery, the development of different channels for internet retail fulfilment should parcel carriers not deliver the right last-mile experience and even, for certain products, 3D printing.

We expect to see a steady increase in market consolidation as the leading operators fill remaining geographical and capability gaps in their networks.

Independent players who are not part of an international partnership may find that they face increasing challenges in retaining / winning customers.

Published By: Apex Insight
Product Code: Apex Insight93

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