Hundreds of extra staff ensure Royal Mail copes with its busiest day of the year

Sorting the Christmas mail at the Peterborough Mail Centre.
Sorting the Christmas mail at the Peterborough Mail Centre.
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Hundreds of staff have been recruited by Royal Mail in Peterborough to help tackle a deluge of Christmas parcels and cards.

About three million Christmas cards and other items were expected to be processed by staff at the Peterborough Mail Centre, in Papyrus Road, in Werrington in just 24 hours today (Tuesday) - the company’s busiest day of the year.

Mandy Chapman with a letter for Santa.

Mandy Chapman with a letter for Santa.

And over the same 24 hours, 300,000 parcels will have been sorted and sent out for delivery by workers at a temporary parcel sorting centre set up in Orton Southgate.

Rebecca Mantyk, Peterborough plant manager, said: “It is our busiest day of the year - the place is just a sea of red envelopes.

“It is a sign that despite email and other technological advances, people still love to send and receive cards at Christmas. The traditional Christmas card is still an important part of the festive season.”

And the figures do seem to show that many thousands of people still want to send gift and cards to loved ones across the county.

It is our busiest day of the year - the place is a sea of red envelopes.

Rebecca Mantyk, manager

Most of the year, the Mail Centre employs about 450 people to handle about one million items in a day but that staffing figure has to almost doubles during the festive period with a further 400 seasonal staff taken on to handle the flood of cards and parcels.

It is well known that Royal Mail, which celebrated its 500th anniversary this year, has faced testing competition for some time by private delivery companies.

But Miss Mantyk said: “I can’t speak about other companies but last year the Royal Mail delivered 120 million parcels over Christmas, which was a four per cent increase on the previous year.

“And we are expecting to see an increase this year as well.

She added: “Christmas is an exciting time at the centre and we are well geared up for the rush.

“This is always our busiest day as people ensure cards and gifts arrive well in time for Christmas.”

In a bid to ensure those parcels arrive at their destinations on time and on the first opportunity, Royal Mail ensures that on each day 80 per cent of parcels are with delivery units for delivery to householders between 6am and 9am.

Miss Mantyk said: “We want to increase the number of parcels that are delivered first time and between 6am and 9am is a good time to find people at home.”

Last posting times for Christmas deliveries are December 21 for first class mail and December 19 for second class.