Gander & White’s lorry
A Gander & White lorry outside Christie’s.

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Things may be slowly getting back to somewhat ‘normal’ but there are plenty of hurdles to overcome.

Victor Khureya, executive operations director at Gander & White explains: “Business is slowly getting better and we are certainly busier than before. We are also receiving a lot of requests for estimates which shows that clients are slowly returning to business.

“However, the original euphoria surrounding the opening of retail and businesses [in April in England] seems to have died down. Traffic levels did go up when the regulations were first relaxed but this has reduced and getting about on our day-to-day business is still much easier than usual.”

The shipping, print and mailbox services firm Mail Boxes Etc., has recently been acquired by MBE Worldwide (its global master licensee). It has a total of 153 service centres in the UK and Ireland (with MBE operating 2800 global service centres in 53 countries).

In spite of the pandemic, the firm says the delivery sector remained buoyant. Duncan Hypher, business development manager at Mail Boxes Etc in the UK & Ireland, says: “There has been continued strong demand for collect, pack and ship services from auctioneers, on behalf of both private buyers and professional dealers based around the UK and across the world.

“While it is too early to truly measure the impact of the reopening of non-essential retail, we are seeing the highest level of auction-related enquiries on record.”

Business impact

Graeme Rhodes, head of marketing at shipper Pack & Send, says: “In the UK there has been a marked upswing in delivery traffic since the first lockdown as non-essential retail closed and most shopping went online and there were additional increases in deliveries as the supermarkets ramped up their online services. Both of these trends have continued through the past 12 months – even when retail re-opened last summer/ autumn.

“However, internationally the story has been very different. The virtual grounding of the world’s airline fleets has significantly reduced global air-cargo freight capacity. This is still having an effect now, both air and sea freight prices have risen sharply through the pandemic.”

He says due to Brexit there have been major backlogs on shipments from the UK to the EU with reports of 50,000 parcels waiting to enter Germany from a single carrier.

He added: “Notwithstanding these issues, we have seen strong growth in our business through the pandemic. Logistics were deemed an essential service and thus open for business throughout so, although some of our core markets (including art and antiques) were initially affected by gallery and auction closures this was lessened as many went to online services.”

Read about the green issues in focus for art and antiques delivery firms.