eCourier makes capital out of London trade

Ian Oliver first went into the courier business during a gap year before starting a law degree at the London School of Economics, reports The Times. Seven weeks of his first term was enough to persuade him that racing round the capital delivering stuff was much more fun than studying tort. Now 57, Mr Oliver set up eCourier in 1991.

The traditional same-day ferrying of documents or goods between businesses has been augmented by the emergence of Amazon, Argos and others offering customers on-the-day delivery of consumer goods. Royal Mail, which already has a same-day delivery service outside London, is buying eCourier to plug a gap in its service in the capital. The plan is to take on City Sprint, the market leader.

With 100 staff and 400 van drivers and motorcyclists, eCourier turns over £20 million a year. Neither profits nor the deal price were disclosed. Mr Oliver, who owns the business outright through family trusts, is not retiring and will lead its integration with the Royal Mail Sameday brand.

Moya Greene, the Royal Mail chief executive who will today report the group’s half year results, called the deal a “strategic milestone”.

Royal Mail shares fell ½p to 454¼p.