Interview: Bdaily meets Paul Gisbourne, CEO of delivery firm CitySprint
CitySprint is a same-day courier business with a history spanning almost three decades, but its digital focus and tech-led ethos place it very much in the 21st Century.
The London-based company operates a regional network of more than 40 service centres and over 5,000 couriers, providing same-day delivery and distribution services for clients in sectors ranging from publishing and healthcare to manufacturing and tech.
According to chief exec Paul Gisbourne, the firm’s extensive network and headcount put it within 60 minutes of 88% of the UK population.
I sat down to chat with Paul about his time with CitySprint and his career before joining the business in 2006 as a regional manager.
“I thrived on the entrepreneurial drive that the business represents,” he said. “Working at CitySprint has provided me with many opportunities to learn and work in an area that I’m passionate about.
“Every job you do is a challenge but making it enjoyable for yourself and the people around you is so important, which is why personal development and getting the best from our people is one of my key priorities as a member of the CitySprint exec team.”
Paul’s job as CEO, he told me, is to ensure customers remain the firm’s top focus. “Being customer centric and providing a trusted logistical solution has been a huge part of my 26-year career in logistics.”
“The delivery sector is being redrawn, with same-day fulfilment having become the new norm”
Before CitySprint, Paul worked for courier firms TNT and UKMail. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working my way up, which has provided me with a greater understanding of the pressures in business but equally the opportunities we have at our disposal, each and every day.”
I quizzed Paul about CitySprint’s closest competitors. How does the business work to out-manoeuvre them and differentiate itself?
“Although there are other courier companies operating in the same markets as us, we see our ourselves differently,” he explained. “The delivery sector is being redrawn, with same-day fulfilment having become the new norm. Patience for late deliveries is in short supply in today’s always-on world, which is why we prioritise customer convenience and satisfaction all year round.
“We offer a suite of versatile delivery solutions which let our customers choose the most convenient option to meet their exact needs — supporting their growth and providing them with a clear competitive advantage.
“Innovation drives our business, enabling us to be faster, better, more transparent”
“Our highly flexible network is specifically set up to support this, which sets us apart from others in the field. Hub-and-spoke distribution models struggle with the increased demands of same-day delivery.”
CitySprint, he said, doesn’t stand still. “Innovation drives our business, enabling us to be faster, better, more transparent and cost efficient.”
The company invests heavily in technology to evolve its offering and improve customer service. Testing and adopting the latest tech, Paul said, helps CitySprint “stay ahead of the game”.
Digital integration has formed a big part of that strategy, affecting everything from the ways in which the company recruits its couriers to the partnerships formed in its pursuit of an ultra-low emission fleet.
What are, in Paul’s view, CitySprint’s biggest achievements so far in 2018?
“With less than six months until the implementation of ULEZ [the Ultra Low Emission Zone coming into force in London], we’re preparing for this positive step towards healthier air.
“As a global leader in the final-mile delivery space, we know it’s our responsibility to lead efforts to leave the environment in a better condition for future generations. This is why improving air quality is a key focal point for our business, especially in metropolitan areas – now and in the future.”
“We are here to set the pace in the new world of smart delivery”
2018 saw CitySprint take new steps to make its fleet greener. The firm recently trialled a first-of-its-kind hydrogen van with energy services business Mitie, one of its London-based clients.
Paul explained: “The vehicle was used for a number of their clients, travelling over 5,000 zero-emission miles around London, which equates to two tonnes of greenhouse gas emission savings and 90 trees saved from absorbing pollution.
“[The trial] was a very exciting development for us as hydrogen is relatively new technology for vehicles, but has huge long-term potential, with a range of up to 200 miles, almost double that of an electric van.”
CitySprint has also continued to increase the overall number of vehicles in its green fleet. It now boasts more push bikes than any other courier in London.
Serving the demand for new delivery options is high on the firm’s agenda for the next few years.
Paul said: “Our vision has never been clearer: we are here to set the pace in the new world of smart delivery.
“It’s our responsibility to lead efforts to leave the environment in a better condition for future generations”
“Our success is down to our ability to constantly think ahead. We are always on the lookout for ways to transform and shape the fast-moving delivery industry.
“Most recently, we launched a new freight service, supported by our carefully selected partners, for companies looking to move oversized, heavy and difficult-to-handle items across the UK.”
CitySprint’s plan is to harness the delivery data it’s collected over the years as it assesses and adapts to customer needs.
Paul said the firm will “continue to invest heavily in new technologies” to increase operational efficiency and ensure it is “constantly meeting customer needs”.
He added: “This will play a significant role in helping us retain our competitive edge and market-leading position while we explore new opportunities to grow and improve our business. As a result, we will remain well-positioned for the future.”