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The new old kid on the postal block

Publishers keep their suppliers and potential suppliers under constant review; are rates competitive, are we getting value for money, are they offering new services which can help us gain competitive advantage? Well, there is a major new player, albeit one with over 45 years’ experience of the UK publishing scene, in the postal and fulfilment market – Asendia, and, as Ed Raynard tells James Evelegh, they are keen to talk to publishers about their unique new offering.

By James Evelegh

Print is in decline! You won’t find too many people who disagree with that statement. Where the discussion tends to focus is on the rate of decline and the likely end game. Is the future digital only, or will we live in a mixed economy of print and digital?

But what is also not in dispute is that, here and now and for some time to come, print and its physical distribution are still huge. Yes, publishers are sensibly diversifying their product portfolio to take advantage of the opportunities the digital world has to offer. Most publishers have jettisoned any legacy loyalty to one particular platform or distribution method, electing instead to serve their content up in whatever format the reader prefers, and for most publishers, certainly consumer, the bulk of their revenues and costs still accrue from the print product. Asendia’s Head of Sales, Ed Raynard, doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.

The recession and the decline in advertising revenues over the past few years have meant that cost control has been a central plank of publishers’ strategies and, even as we start to move into a phase of economic recovery, that is unlikely to change.

One of the principal costs a publisher faces, probably second only to print, is postal fulfilment and distribution, and with that in mind, publishers should be aware of what the new kid on the postal block, Asendia, has to offer.

Three become one

Asendia represents the coming together of three well established postal and mailing fulfilment companies: La Poste (the French post office, which includes Bedford-based mailing house BTB Mailflight as one of its subsidiaries), Swiss Post and Pitney Bowes International Mail UK, who together have over 45 years’ experience of the UK postal market. The new brand (the name ‘Asendia’ is a melding of the words ‘send’ – the company’s core competence – and ‘ascend’ – the company’s growth aspiration for itself and its customers) first started being marketed to publishers in June 2012, but much of the intervening 18 months has been spent on pulling the different companies together, harmonising the offering as well as tying up all the inevitable loose ends after any company merger.

As of 1 January 2014, that process is complete and Asendia’s mission is now to explain their offering to the publishing market, an offering which is based on the combined strengths of three previously distinct companies, the full backing of two of Europe’s largest postal operators and a global network of offices and routes. The new company is Europe’s second largest postal operator, and perhaps most importantly, it is fully committed to the publishing market and has invested extensively in its offering to publishers. The merging of three separate companies in the UK might “arguably have reduced the choice for publishers”, says Ed, “but it has also made the business a more sustainable one” and this is an important consideration for publishers, remembering DHL’s departure from the UK publishing market in early 2012.

As part of its mission to explain, Asendia is inviting publishers to visit its mailing house in Bedford and new purpose-built office suite and expanded operational facilities at Heathrow. “We actively welcome all publishers to come down and see our site and what we can do. So, if you’re a publisher with data, polywrapping, distribution or fulfilment requirements and not currently using Asendia, we invite you to come and see first-hand our capability to serve publishers’ circulation needs.”

Certainly, with fulfilment and postage being such significant costs, it makes sense for publishers to acquaint themselves with what a major new player in the market has to offer.

Our USPs

What makes Asendia’s offering unique, says Ed, is its speed to market for international delivery (via its airside conveyancing facility at Heathrow), its accountability (Asendia has direct control over its distribution routes), its highly competitive rates (due to economies of scale), the backing of two major European postal operators and in its ability to offer end-to-end mailing and fulfilment solutions.

Asendia’s UK customer base ranges from domestic titles that only use the polywrapping and fulfilment services to international titles that use the international postal services, and, of course, those who use both.

A bespoke service in a commoditised world

Some publishers now choose print and distribution services purely on price and, to that extent, the market has become commoditised, so it is tempting for suppliers to offer a no-frills budget service, focusing solely on costs. Yet, warns Ed, “postal suppliers offer a commoditised service at their peril”.

“Publishers are an educated, distribution savvy market, so suppliers really need to be on their mettle to offer an innovative and dependable solution.”

And, although Ed didn’t say so himself, I know that publishers are also an extremely demanding bunch who expect the world, but don’t want to pay for it!

The Asendia approach, he says, is to get under the skin of publishers so as to be able to offer a truly bespoke service. For each of their customers and prospects, Asendia maps out graphically the publisher’s business; their product proposition, their reader market, their advertiser market, their production and distribution requirements. This helps the Asendia team to identify the various touch points and to work out which parts of the Asendia offering might be of interest to any given publisher.

With regards international distribution, Asendia will first find out the precise requirements relating to time sensitivity and geographic spread, before creating a bespoke distribution plan for each title.

One aspect of their service which Ed is particularly proud of is their account management function, which he describes as a ‘gold standard’ service. It is a proactive team which is tasked with familiarising itself completely with the needs of the publisher; not waiting for the phone to ring but communicating proactively and scheduling regular review meetings. These communications, which are the cornerstone of the relationship, are not proscriptive or set in stone. The account manager’s job is to listen to the needs of the client and to tailor a communications plan accordingly – the client might want quarterly review meetings, but then again, they might be happy with annual ones. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Depth of services

For its core offering of international mail and polywrapping, Asendia offers an admirable depth of service. Not only does the airside conveyancing mean one less link in the distribution chain, which for a time sensitive publication, makes all the difference, but the 15 global offices mean that Asendia has unparalleled first-hand knowledge and experience of the major postal markets around the world – the direct entry options, address formatting requirements and alternative delivery channels.

On the polywrapping side, Asendia’s site in Bedford has five Sitma lines, up to ten inserting stations (great for your ad sales team) and the ability to print on polythene, as well as full colour double-sided carrier sheets.

“We have a comprehensive offering in what are our bread and butter areas, but we offer so much more than wrapping and posting.”

Wide range of services

One of the things that sets the Asendia proposition apart is the sheer breadth of its offering. International mail is handled from its Heathrow depot, polywrapping from its sites in Bedford and Southampton, but the company has a second site in Bedford, a 40,000 sq ft high-tech response fulfilment centre (with digital print, response handling, e-commerce, call centre, pick and pack) which gives publishers a huge range of additional options. Asendia knows that the publishing market is changing fast and is adapting its offering so as to be able to provide a broader range of services. These are tailored to each publisher’s needs. For The Economist, for example, they handle their highly complex renewal series, including the email broadcast elements. For Northern & Shell, they provide full subscription bureau services for titles like OK! The point is that the company has the digital know-how to put together a fulfilment service to cater for the most varied of requirements.

Services you didn’t know you needed

Asendia prides itself on being able to provide a wide range of end-to-end solutions to UK publishers. In fact, says Ed, publishers are constantly being surprised by what’s on offer. At one recent client meeting, he recalls, scheduled to review mailing channels, the session concluded with the client placing an order for business cards via Asendia’s digital print service. Similarly, Asendia’s hybrid mail solution, Maileva (with 10,000 users across Europe, though still relatively new to the UK market), has huge cost-saving potential for any publishers sending transactional mailings such as renewals and invoices from the office, which, I’m guessing, is most.

But one of the most exciting aspects of the Asendia offering is that it is not constrained by the skill sets and experience of its UK offices, extensive though that undoubtedly is. Asendia has a network of 15 offices around the world, each with its own deep expertise in its local market, but also with a set of unique service offerings which can be served up to any Asendia client round the globe. These are far too many to list here but include online shops, delivery of copies to airport lounges, hotels and events worldwide, a telemarketing operation in Switzerland which can target the French, German and Italian markets, bespoke newsstand support logistics for niche titles in a wide range of international markets and local print options.

And, says Ed, “Asendia can help your business grow and develop. Thinking of trying to break into the growing Asian market? Well let me introduce you to our Hong Kong and Singapore offices… Asendia can call on its global network of services to offer something genuinely valuable to any UK title with an international circulation.”


If you’re a digital-only publisher, then you probably stopped reading this article some time ago. But if, like most publishers, you have print products which you need to wrap or mail, in the UK or abroad, and you haven’t yet had a chance to find out how Asendia can help you, then, says Ed Raynard, “give me a call on 07734 419 584 and we can arrange a time for you to come and visit us. You are welcome any time!”


Unit 12, The Heathrow Estate

Silver Jubilee Way


Middlesex, TW4 6NF

Ed Raynard

Head of Sales - Publishing


Tel: 020 8897 1200 / 07734 419 584


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