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UPS acquires Italian pharma firm, adds new service

By control on November 30, 2011

UPS, which opened five pharmaceutical facilities this year in the Americas, Europe and Asia, is continuing its pharma push with its acquisition of the Italian company Pieffe Group and the launch of a new healthcare-oriented product. The 35-year-old firm warehouses and distributes some of the world's leading brands. Terms of the deal were kept private.

Pieffe's major holdings include two healthcare distribution facilities in Milan and Rome totaling 70,000 square meters. UPS currently operates 370,000 square meters of healthcare distribution space.

“Pieffe is a perfect fit for UPS,” UPS Europe President Jim Barber said in a statement. “The company shares UPS’ focus on high-quality service and compliance as well as our deep-rooted culture of precision and innovation. Pieffe will make a valuable addition to UPS’ European healthcare network."

UPS has been slowly gaining market share in the healthcare industry by rolling out new products, acquiring companies and forming alliances. In June, the healthcare giant Merck asked UPS to manage distribution, warehousing and transportation for the firm's Asian and Latin American customers; UPS had previously only handled North American business.

One new product geared at the healthcare, high-tech and retail sectors is Returns Exchange, a service that provides customers with immediate replacement items when defective goods are shipped back to the manufacturer. UPS Returns Exchange is currently offered in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

With the new system, instead of having a customer ship the goods back to their manufacturer, a UPS agent will drop of a replacement item while picking the defective item up to be returned. The driver will help the customer pack the defective parcel in the box that contained the replacement and ship the item back to the manufacturer.

Wayne Bosch, vice president of customer solutions at UPS, praised the service as simplifying and improving reverse logistics. “Streamlining the returns process puts the control in the hands of the customer, giving them the advantage of speed and convenience,” Bosch said in a statement. “UPS Returns Exchange improves supply-chain efficiency while the simplified process helps better manage customer satisfaction.”

The service will also reduce carbon emissions and eliminate waste, according to a UPS press release. In addition to utilizing the same box to ship the faulty good and its replacement, UPS Returns Exchange prevents shippers from having to mail empty boxes to customers for item retrieval.