Half a century in the parcel business Hamburg-based delivery company Hermes turns 50

In 1972, the Hamburg-based mail-order company OTTO founded Hermes Paket-Schnell-Dienst so as to be able to deliver its goods in a more service-orientated manner independently of the German postal service.

Hermes then and now (Photo: Hermes)

In 1972, the Hamburg-based mail-order company OTTO founded Hermes Paket-Schnell-Dienst so as to be able to deliver its goods in a more service-orientated manner independently of the German postal service. Since then, Hermes has developed rapidly and is now active in various business divisions and subsidiaries, even operating beyond national borders. The original business, the national parcel delivery service, is run by Hermes Germany GmbH, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary and taking time to both reflect and look towards the future. As well as the on-going subject of digitalisation, climate and environmental protection will be of the greatest priority for the Hamburg-based logistics company in the coming years.

“The past 50 years have been very moving for Hermes – both literally and figuratively: a little parcel delivery company has become a household name that is now a mainstay of the parcel industry. Without our strong sense of togetherness, the dedication of all our staff and the loyalty of our partners and end customers, none of it would have been possible. On behalf of Hermes Germany, I would like to say a big thank you to them all”, says Olaf Schabirosky, Chief Executive Officer at Hermes Germany.

50 years of logistics expertise meets the future: we’re on our way!

“We have expanded significantly over the past few years. In the future, we intend to continue this trend and drive the logistics industry forward purposefully and sustainably”, says Schabirosky. “Our main focus is to tailor our services even more specifically to the wants and needs of our customers. To do this, we are continuing to put our all into consistently digitalising our business. Sustainability and climate protection have also taken a more prominent, strategic position and are our declared corporate objectives. We know that knowledge and growth are only possible when we take decisive action in the areas of climate and environmental protection. On top of this, we also want to contribute to a worthwhile future.”

Hermes Germany is heavily involved in finding new solutions for the parcel and city logistics industry of the future, particularly in making the last mile even more sustainable. To do this, the logistics company is using a versatile mixture of measures in which electric mobility plays a crucial role. The Green Delivery Berlin scheme, which was launched in the capital last year as a model for sustainable city logistics, has since expanded to include Magdeburg, Dresden and Mainz. Other cities are in the pipeline for 2022.

Overall, Hermes takes a holistic approach when it comes to climate and environmental protection: in addition to measures it is implementing on the last mile, the parcel delivery service is also using green power, renewable energy and highly efficient equipment at its logistics locations to reduce CO2emissions. The newest logistics centres have all been awarded the Gold certificate by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) and the older locations are gradually being optimised and/or modernised for energy efficiency. The reduction and prevention of CO2 emissions is always the main priority. Wherever technological solutions do not currently exist or are not economically viable, emissions are partially offset by climate protection projects of the highest standard. Another way in which the logistics company is dedicating itself to this cause is via its collaboration with the Otto Group in supporting the climate and nature protection initiative “toMOORow”, which is concerned with the rewetting of peatlands.

Optimistic despite challenging times

The parcel delivery company is not disheartened by the current environment and the market conditions, which are anything but encouraging: “Over the past few years, Hermes Germany has been on a successful path – we have grown sustainably, considerably expanded our customer portfolio and improved our services. In the last business year, almost 97% of deliveries were handed over at the first attempt and at top speed. 93% of standard deliveries arrived at the front door the day after they were handed over to us. This is first-class operative performance and it happens every day. During the pandemic, our network has proven to be resilient and efficient. Overall, in the recent past, we have created a good basis for the future”, explains Schabirosky.

How Hermes became the largest independent CEP logistics company in just five decades

On 1 June 1972, Hermes Paket-Schnell-Dienst was launched as the in-house parcel delivery company of the mail-order company OTTO, independent of the public postal service. The one-millionth package had already been delivered by Christmas 1973. Three years after it was founded, the company – now renamed Hermes Versand Service – had grown into a nationwide delivery enterprise employing approx. 560 members of staff and looking after all the consignments for OTTO. In comparison, Hermes Germany today transports over two million deliveries on peak days and is a reliable partner for both large and small e-commerce business (B2C) as well as for private parcel deliveries (C2C). Customers in over 150 countries can send their parcels and packages with Hermes. 6,000 members of staff from over 90 countries are employed by the parcel delivery company.

Business gained additional momentum in November 1989 when the border between East and West Germany opened up. At Christmas time, the first deliveries were made to the former GDR. After the currency changeover on 1 July 1990, Hermes was the first parcel service to be able to deliver to the entire former Eastern state.

Another significant milestone was the opening of the first Hermes ParcelShop in February 1999. Today, 23 years later, the ParcelShop network is a central building block in the Hermes logistics structure and has also established itself as an important alternative delivery option for the entire industry. In over 16,500 ParcelShops nationwide, Hermes Germany customers can securely and conveniently send and receive parcels and process returns – and, thanks to long opening hours, often do so outside busy periods. The ParcelShops are also a good alternative when it comes to the company’s carbon footprint:on average, consolidated delivery to a ParcelShop causes 25% fewer CO2 emissions than delivery to your home address.

In the 1990s, a new IT era began at Hermes and processes became more and more digital as the years passed. Today, numerous digital tools such as digital route planning facilitate the working day of logistics staff and delivery agents. Bespoke solutions are constantly being tailored to the wants and needs of the customers. Parcels can be redirected to a ParcelShop just before delivery or rerouted to a neighbour, for instance, allowing recipients to actively guide the delivery process. On the whole, the agile and digital collaboration within the company has taken another leap forward as a result of both the coronavirus pandemic and the cultural change initiated in the recent past and practised throughout the Otto Group.

Due to a range of measures including a large-scale, €300 million infrastructure programme, the logistics network has also been massively expanded in recent years with additional modern and sustainable locations. With 13 logistics centres and over 275 private and partner locations nationwide, the Hamburg-based parcel delivery company Hermes Germany has a stable and flexible network at its disposal with which it is optimally equipped for the coming years.

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