Royal Mail To Set Up Manchester Christmas Hub

Royal Mail is to set up nine sites across the country, including one in Manchester, to handle the huge Christmas postbag this year.

The postal group is investing an extra £15 million in the sites as it gears up to deliver an estimated two billion items over the festive season.

The move follows the continued growth of online shopping, as well as preparing for any repeat of the severe weather conditions that hit services last year.

Mark Higson, Royal Mail's managing director of operations and modernisation, said: ``Christmas is the busiest time of year for Royal Mail and our customers. On peak days we handle around 130 million items - around double our normal average daily mailbag of 62 million items.

``Royal Mail has invested an additional £15 million to increase our scale and improve our flexibility during this important time of year for our customers.

``As we do every year, we encourage people to post early and order presents early to help us spread the workload of handling around two billion items in the run-up to Christmas.''

The new ``packet hubs'' will open in the coming weeks in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Swansea, Bristol, Peterborough, Manchester, Swindon, Nuneaton and Watford.

Nigel Woods of Consumer Focus said: ``People across the country experienced frustrating delays to their Christmas post last winter, so it is good to see Royal Mail taking steps to stop this happening again this year with additional investment and a dedicated packet network.

``Another spell of bad weather in December could really test Royal Mail's ability to deliver our post on time.

``Even though it still seems a long way off, we would remind people to start thinking about putting in their online orders for presents, and sending their Christmas post to family and friends in advance. Avoiding leaving it to the last minute can help save much-needed extra cash and avoid unwanted stress.''