Behind the scenes

Depot Focus: Stoke

From Stockport to Shropshire, the team at Stoke works hard to keep parcels moving.

With a network of suburban and rural locations, including England’s highest village, Stoke depot enjoys serving a variety of interesting customers.

Nestled next to the River Trent, the city is known for its pottery, and the depot is delighted to have worked with Emma Bridgewater ceramics factory for more than 10 years. The brand specialises in handmade pottery, drawing on techniques stretching back over 200 years and producing more than 1.3 million pieces of pottery each year in Stoke. “Emma Bridgewater is one of our largest clients and a success story” says Operations Manager Darren Willett. “The products are delivered all over the world and we make several collections a day.” Bulk delivery driver Tim Mullington has worked for Parcelforce for 15 years. “I make five collections for Emma Bridgewater per day but there can be up to eight,” he says. “Obviously the parcels are fragile, but they are well packed and we’re trained to transport them carefully. “I deliver a variety of goods in my job. I think the biggest item was a hot tub – I’m certainly keeping fit!”

And you need to be fit to tackle England’s highest village Flash, in Staffordshire. “Flash is unique”, says Darren. “The place can get snow in May, so our vehicles have to be fitted with snow tyres. Thanks to our drivers’ knowledge, the relationship we have with the local Post Office and a trusty Ordnance Survey map, we find a way to get the job done.”

Another one of our challenges is the M6,” adds Darren. “There are weekly congestions and closures and our drivers have to be alert to find alternative routes and relay any they find back to the depot.”

Early Shift Manager Chris Henshall has worked for the company for 25 years and completed his ODP (operational development programme) last year. “The course was really beneficial and gave me a good grounding in finance, transport, CPC (certificate of professional competence) attendance and conduct,” says Chris. “We have a good team here, which is reflected in the contracts we have with our customers.” Darren adds: “It’s a special place. I care about my employees – they’re impossible to replace.”

More than 300 enquiries come through to Stoke’s admin team, which is made up of admin Supervisor Barry Jackson, brother and sister Customer Service Providers Elaine and Russell Bennett and ‘honorary Bennett’ Customer Service Provider Christine Bruce. And the Bennett count doesn’t stop there. An amazing eight of them work at the depot! “There’s loads of us!” jokes Russell. “My mum Joy is also a Customer Service Provider, my dad Ian and my uncle Paul are drivers, my brother Graham is a Night Sorter, my nephew William is a Back Loader and Graham’s wife Claire is a Customer Service Provider! I really enjoy speaking to different customers each day and it’s nice to see so many friendly faces around.”

Another friendly face who’s sadly had to retire from the depot is driver Bob Wood. “Bob left to care for his wife,” says Darren. “He was a great member of the team and will be missed. “We have great people here, who really care about the work they do. We enjoy getting together for football and golf matches and, although we’ve had to cut down on the football for injury reasons, we remain undefeated in our old North-West area!”

 

Stoke depot – in numbers

  • Open in February 2012
  • 7,500 parcels delivered every day
  • 4,500 parcels collected every day
  • 102 members of staff (including those 8 Bennetts)