DHL, the world's largest express delivery company, is considering moving the bulk of its UK IT operations to Eastern Europe in a bid to cut costs.
The plans, contained in an internal staff information pack seen by Computer Weekly, follow a review of IT operations worldwide. UK IT operations affected include the Staines and Byfleet datacentre, application development, and application and operations support.
Up to 350 UK IT jobs - half of the firm's UK ITstaff - would be at risk if the logistics firm goes ahead with its relocation. A three-month staff consultation is due to close in August. DHL IT staff in Basel, Switzerland will also be affected by the proposal.
DHL's plans highlight the trend for companies to outsource or relocate parts of their IT operations overseas to countries such as India where the IT workforce is cheaper. Although the business can benefit from lower costs, union leaders have warned they will take strike action if compulsory redundancies hit UK IT staff.
In an internal presentation to DHL staff dated 6 May, DHL's global chief information officer, Stephen McGuckin, stressed that the company intended to retain a base in the UK for its global information services operations.
"You should be aware that the global IS organisation structure has been designed to develop a virtual cross-divisional organisation," he said. "Staff impacted by the UK and Basel proposal will have individual discussions with their managers concerning this aspect of the announcement."
The review of IT operations was prompted by the acquisition of DHL last year by Deutsche Post World Net, said James Harvey, director of change programmes in global IS at DHL.
"Our datacentre in the UK was processing just the former DHL business but it is now quite a different situation," said Harvey. "Staines is simply not big enough to cope with the new requirements and so we are forced to look for a new location."
DHL is looking at potential sites in Eastern Europe for its new datacentre but has not yet made a final decision and is continuing to consult staff, said Harvey. The skills and cost of the local workforce will be key factors in the planned relocation but DHL is not looking to outsource the IT operations affected.