Volume 2, Number 11

Irish Philatelic Newsletter

Volume 2, Number 11                                                                                                           November, 2000

A periodic publication for the members of the Éire Philatelic Association, the Irish Airmail Society, the Irish Philatelic Circle and the Forschungs-und Arbeitsgemeinschaft Irland e.V. The newsletter will be e-mailed to all interested members.

Published and edited by Michael Connolly
Re: A Call for Articles
Charles Snee

I saw your request in the latest online newsletter. As a fledgling collector of Ireland, I hardly know enough to offer a meaningful discussion. But I would like to know more. Therefore, I ask the readership to offer any suggestions as to good sources of Irish stamps (I collect the overprints through the issues of 1979, unused), literature dealing with Irish
philately, names of specialists, etc. Any help will be most appreciated.

Charles Snee

(editor’s note: Charles is an associate editor at Linn’s Stamp News.)
An Post News

An Post Opens New £10m SDS Automatic Parcel Processing Centre
Brian Warren

(from StampsAU online magazine 27 October 2000)

A new £10 million automated distribution centre for SDS, the courier and parcels distribution division of An Post was officially opened on October 12 at SDS headquarters, Naas Road by the Minister for Public Enterprise, Mrs. Mary O’Rourke.

The most modern parcel sortation equipment in Europe has been installed in a purpose built premises of 80,000 square feet bringing to 150,000 square feet the total extent of the SDS plant which handles more than nine million parcels a year.

A further two million parcels are processed annually through its national and international services at major hubs in Athlone, Galway and Cork. Through the An Post national post office network, SDS also operates 96 distribution centres.

SDS was established ten years ago in October 1990 and has seen dramatic growth in volumes, turnover, vehicles and customer numbers since it moved from the city centre sorting facility at Sheriff Street. It now employs 500 full-time staff.

Turnover at £54 million in 1999, compares with just £16 million in 1990 and marked a further high point in the growth of a business which has always operated outside the postal monopoly and now specialises in next day business-to-business and business-to-consumer deliveries.

The expansion of the Naas Road facility was made necessary by the success of the SDS operation which is the leader in the national market and is number two in international distribution of packages under 30kgs.

Mr. Peter Sweeney, managing director of SDS, said “The investment and development at SDS headquarters was necessary to meet future capacity requirements, enhance customer service and strengthen the cost competitiveness of our operation.

We are confident that with this expansion, and planned developments elsewhere, we will be positioned to meet emerging trends in the market place and the future needs of our customers.”

Minister O’Rourke congratulated SDS on ten successful years of operation. The quality of the SDS national network is such that a customer in Rosslare can post a parcel, at 4 p.m., to Malin Head and be confident that it will be delivered next morning.

“The search for that kind of reliable nationwide delivery has driven SDS to its current efficiency level. Its progress over ten years has been achieved in an area of the postal market which is highly competitive and fragmented, and which is now marked by increasing international consolidation.

I know that when An Post concludes its consideration of its options in relation to a strategic partner, the future strategic needs of SDS in international express parcels and logistics will be fully catered for,” the Minister said.

An Post’s £76m Mail Automation Project
Maurice Barrett

The following is an article that appears in the Autumn 2000 issue of “BusinessPost”, An Post’s magazine for business users.

“The Board of An Post has given approval for a major automation programme for the Letter Post division. A proposal has been accepted for the development of mail hubs in the Dublin Mails Centre (DMC), Cork, Portlaoise and Athlone the total cost of the project is £74.6m.

The proposal is to move – over the next four years – from a partially automated, localised operation in Dublin and Portlaoise to a fully integrated, fully automated national network. the investment will achieve significant reductions in processing costs and provide extra capacity into the future.

A key element of the plan is for a total network involving the consolidation of all mail processing into four automated hubs. Each hub would have the level of automation needed to process the mail volumes generated in its own catchment area and to interconnect with the other hubs to provide a nationwide over-night service.

All of this will facilitate the introduction of new products and pricing strategies to meet customer needs and position Letter Post to meet the competitive challenges which will come with further liberalisation of the European postal market.

The first phase of the programme has commenced with the signing of a contract worth £11 m between An Post and the German engineering company – Siemens.

Siemens are contracted to provide the equipment for three additional automated letter sorting lines in the Dublin mails Centre, the upgrade of existing machinery in the plant, the delivery of a new video coding system and a management control system for transfer of video images and data between automated sites. This system will increase processing capacity in the DMC by 75,000 items per hour  and enable Letter Post to sort mail down to delivery route level in both the DMC and Portlaoise

The programme of installation will continue throughout 2001 following delivery of the first element of machinery in February.”

An Post Acquires Same-day Delivery Companies
Michael Connolly

(from StampsAU online magazine 30 October 2000)

An Post has acquired JMC Van Trans and Wheels Couriers – two companies specialising in the same-day
delivery of documents and parcels in the greater Dublin area.

JMC Van Trans operates an overnight nationwide groupage delivery service as well as a Pick and Pack
logistics service for a number of key customers. Based at Merrywell Business Park in Dublin it also operates
through regional agents in Waterford, Cork, Killarney, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, Letterkenny and Belfast.
Wheels Couriers operates from Dublin city centre.

The companies, which have a combined annual turnover of £7.5 million, will give An Post immediate access to markets in which it is not so far involved and where there is a record of strong growth through two well
established companies. They will operate independently within the An Post Group.

JMC Van Trans was founded in 1990 and is run jointly by John McCluskey and Garret Murphy. They purchased a majority shareholding in Wheels Courier in 1992. The companies currently employ 51 staff as well as 167 owner drivers and eight regional agents.

Mr. John Hynes, Group Chief Executive of An Post, said “An Post is delighted to have acquired two high quality companies which operate in important market segments and which have an established reputation as the providers of high quality, high reliability services.

JMC Van Trans and Wheels are well managed, growing and profitable companies, the ownership of which will give us access to markets in which we are not at present represented. It is our intention to provide support in growing and developing their core markets.” 

“The acquisition will enable the An Post Group to provide a wider portfolio of services as well as broadening and enhancing our own capabilities,” Mr. Hynes said.

Garret Murphy, joint managing director of JMC Van Trans said “We are very pleased to be associated with An Post. Combining the reach and experience of An Post with the energy and innovation with which we have
grown our operations will produce a new dynamic, which will be of enormous benefit to customers and
employees in both businesses.”

Multi-million Pound e-Commerce Strategy launched by An Post
Michael Connolly

(from StampsAU online magazine 20 October 2000)

An Post has announced details of the first phase of its e-Commerce strategy with a multi-million pound
investment to provide Ireland’s first secure bill presentment and payment system online. At http://www.billpay.ie, Irish Internet Users will be able to view and pay their bills online free of charge.

Through BillPay.ie An Post becomes one of the first organisations in Europe to offer online bill delivery and
payment, truly creating the electronic Post Office. 

Customers of the new service, will from today, be able to apply to have a range of bills delivered online and in addition will be able to pay over sixty five different bills online from other service and utility providers. 

Already a number of major billers have agreed to offer customers the option of having their bills delivered
electronically to billpay.ie. These include eircom, Esat Digifone, Irish Multichannel, Spirit Telecom and
Swiftcall. An Post is currently in negotiations with other companies and will announce additions shortly.

In a nationally representative survey on consumer attitudes to e-Commerce conducted by Amarach Consulting in June of this year it was revealed that lack of trust was a key barrier to people transacting business over the internet.

Commenting on the research Gerard O’Neill MD of Amarach said, “Fear of giving financial and personal details over the Internet are real barriers to e-Commerce trading. In our research An Post stood out as the most trusted major player in the Irish financial services market. This fact allied to its market leader position in the bill payment market makes it a natural provider of internet based bill delivery and payment.” 

The research revealed:

An Post has a long history as a highly trusted intermediary and research indicates that 70% of Irish people
consider An Post to be honest and fair, compared to only 40% who feel the same about banks.

An Post is already used by 46% of people to pay their bills. 

While over 100 million bills are paid annually in Ireland virtually no bills are paid online at present. This
compares to the United States where 25-33% of household bills are received online and this is expected to rise to over 75% by 2002. 

Amarach asked Internet users how likely they would be to use an online Billpay service:

62% of current bill payers in the 25-74 age group (287,000 people) said they would use an online bill payment service if available of all billpayers 59% (345,000) said that they would probably or definitely use the service. Most interestingly 25% or 361,000 people said that they would be encouraged to start using the Internet in the next year to use such a service

Further commenting on the research Amarach�s Gerard O�Neill said ” with only 2% of business in Ireland
conducted through the Internet this new initiative could prove to be a major driver of e-Commerce in Ireland”.

Using billpay.ie is very easy, even for new Internet users. On their first visit to the site users will be asked to
register. This initial registration is the only time customers will need to submit their financial details over a
secure fully encrypted Internet connection. These details will then be stored by An Post offline, thereby further increasing the security of the initiative. Users will be able to pay bills by credit card, laser card or directly from their bank account.

The service is simple to use; customers can either view and pay bills of any of the participating service
providers by using one of the payment methods they have already assigned, or pay bills online that have arrived in the post. With the presentment option they will receive an email or a SMS text message to their mobile phone to inform them that one of their bills has been delivered to the site and can be viewed at http://www.billpay.ie.

An Post also announced two further e-security services which will be provided through Post.Trust, its trusted
intermediary infrastructure. It launched “SiteWatch” a server security certificate mark which will be awarded to sites that have been audited for security. Its second e-security product is “PostCert”- a digital certification
service for business and consumers which will facilitate secure communication of messages on the internet.

Terry Reynolds, Group Strategy Director of An Post, said “Offering billpay.ie – the presentation and payment of bills electronically- is an obvious step for An Post. We have carefully researched the market and are confident that we can fully exploit our first mover advantage in a market where over 100 million bills are paid annually.”

” This initiative is not intended to replace our existing methods of bill payment, but will expand our traditional customer base as international examples have already shown. In relation to the Post.Trust products – SiteWatch and PostCert – they will give customers the confidence to use the Internet safely and securely.”

IMP Notes 


IMP 20 (“…..Change of Heart”) was used at the DMC up to and including 1 November 2000. On and from 2 November 2000, the slogan has reverted to IMP 7 (“…..RETURN ADDRESS…..”) for both machines. IMP 20 was first used on 2 October 2000. It appears that IMP 7 is the “default” slogan.

For PMC, IMP 18 (“THE EURO…..”) has been in use for some time and IMP 20 has not been seen used at the PMC at all.



Cork – new machine slogan

Today, 17 November 2000, I first saw a new slogan used on Cork “A” machine, dated 8 – PM 16 Nov. 2000 with the wording: Sam McCauley / One Stop Health / & Beauty Shops / Indulge Yourself  with an illustration of a pestle
and mortar. Sam McCauley is a an Irish chain of pharmacists with their main office based in Wexford town.

I understand that the slogan is used only at Cork and not at other provincial offices. It first came into use on Friday last, 10 November 2000 and is scheduled to be in use for one month; however, it may be in use for only two weeks according to McAuley’s marketing manager.



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