Making turkeys fly with the fleet that will deliver 14,500 turkeys in a day - CILT(UK)
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Making turkeys fly with the fleet that will deliver 14,500 turkeys in a day

10 December 2019/Categories: CILT, Industry News, Freight Forwarding, Logistics & Supply Chain


FedEx Express is preparing for the huge effort that will go into delivering record-setting 14,500 fresh turkeys from a single site in Essex in just 24 hours this Christmas.

FedEx, whose delivery network connects 99% of the world’s GDP, expected to ship over 33 million packages globally on Cyber Monday alone.[i]. However, at a time when e-commerce accounts for 20%[ii] of all retail sales and British consumers will receive as many as 400 million parcels from retailers and small businesses over the course of 2019, reliable deliveries are the key to customer happiness. What job could come with more pressure than delivering the Christmas turkey fresh and on time for the big day itself?

A record day for family farmers

This challenge has been the key to business growth for Kelly Turkeys. A family business founded in 1971, Kelly Turkeys expects a record-breaking festive season, selling and delivering 14,500 prize-winning KellyBronze Turkeys in 24 hours with the help of their long-term logistics provider, FedEx Express.

“We’ve been providing fresh turkeys for Christmas for nearly 50 years and this year will be a record-breaker with more than 14 thousand turkeys making their way from our base in Essex to tables across the UK. No Christmas is complete without a British Turkey on the table, but for us and FedEx, a huge amount of effort goes into making sure Christmas dinner is delivered on time and customers order again,” said Paul Kelly of Kelly Turkeys.

Gearing up for growth

Kelly added, “Preparation starts pretty much from Boxing Day when our first orders come through and we look back on the challenges from the previous season. Our birds then hatch from May to June, but by November, the entire complexion of our business is transformed. The bulk of orders come through after Guy Fawkes night, plucking then lasts for six weeks, and by the end of November, our workforce will quadruple in size from 30 to 120. Packing begins in mid-December and our dedicated FedEx team will be onsite to oversee the technical complexities of labelling and help with last minute changes.

“Christmas trade accounts for around 60% of our company turnover, and whilst this may look like a lot of pressure, it is all made possible with the trust, expertise and dedication we’ve built up over many years with FedEx,” said Kelly.

No ruffled feathers for FedEx 

Robert Peto, Vice President, Hub Operations and Transport UK, FedEx Express said, “It’s the millions of small British business, like Kelly Turkeys that truly make Christmas a special time of year for so many families, as well as helping to form the bedrock of the UK economy. The scale of the task for Kelly Turkeys never gets any smaller. Having delivered their Christmas turkeys for the last 13 years with numbers hitting 14,500 this year, it’s a unique task and we’re honoured to play a part.’’

For FedEx, delivery planning begins in September. They build a tailored delivery map based on postcodes and order sizes which they revise each week through to the end of December so they know exactly which turkeys will be loaded into which vehicles and when. This year, as December 23rd falls on a Monday, FedEx will do its  first-ever Sunday collection with the biggest fleet of 10 trucks. These go from the main Kelly’s base in Howe Green for overnight sorting at UK distribution hubs, and then hit the road to customers on the morning of the 23rd. 

‘’Over the years, we’ve seen everything from snow to flooding and high winds, but along with Kelly’s, we’re dedicated to helping make sure Christmas dinner arrives on time and customers are always happy. On the day itself, keeping regular communication between the drivers out on the road and the team at headquarters  is vital so customers are always on top of their delivery,” Peto said. 

The festive feeling

Paul Kelly continued, “The excitement and anticipation during the last week before Christmas is truly palpable, and even if we sometimes think we’re mad for doing so much over such a short period, in reality we’re all addicted to the thrill, excitement and satisfaction of receiving all the customer thanks for any other small business that relies upon seasonal trade, I’d always plan ahead and build your business around the customer experience. Thanks to this focus, we’ve built a solid business with a great reputation that becomes part of people’s Christmas traditions. With the help and support of the team at FedEx, we’ve also been able to take our business to the U.S. with a farm in Virginia and customers from New York to Los Angeles,” he said.

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