Mailroom manager posts a challenge in the UK

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The Independent Online
UNTIL recently, a US law firm was sending documents from the second floor to the 10th floor of its New York offices by Federal Express. This sounds nonsensical, but is apparently not uncommon. It helps to explain why a division of Pitney Bowes, the US office equipment company, claims it can cut mailroom and associated costs by a fifth.

Now, having grown from five staff to 7,000 in its domestic market since 1988, it is being launched in Britain. Carole St Mark, the executive who founded the business, says the operation, which began accidentally as a result of a customer asking Pitney Bowes to manage the mailroom as well as supply franking and other machines, has ``grown exponentially''.

With 700 contracts with such organisations as IBM, banks and state governments as well as professional firms, Pitney Bowes Management Services is the fastest-growing division of the company and now contributes 10 per cent of the parent company's $3.5bn (pounds 2.2bn) revenues.

Ms St Mark says the company is proceeding cautiously with international expansion. But she adds that the potential in Britain and other countries is huge.

In support, she and Barry Spence, the UK managing director, cite a recent report by 3i that although 92.4 per cent of companies are positive about outsourcing, few had moved beyond contracting out such areas as information technology, security and catering.

Mr Spence said although his team would be competing in certain fields with the likes of Kodak and Xerox, he believed it would provide unrivalled overall coverage.

In addition to using equipment from companies other than Pitney Bowes, it aims to use computer programs and other techniques developed in the US in order to determine the most efficient methods of processing mail.

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