According to a statement, Paperlinx and DHL have “identified a number of common strategic initiatives, capable of driving value for both organisations through close collaboration”.

However, Paperlinx chief executive Andrew Price stressed that no final decisions had been made on what form the strategic partnership will take and added that at this stage it was focused on developing a five-year logistics business plan that will aim to reduce costs and, according to the company, “create a more flexible operational model”.

“What we’re stating is our intention to work with DHL at a strategic level to identify ways to deliver our products, better, faster, cheaper to our customers,” said Price.

“Right now, all we’re doing to is setting up the ground rules to enable both companies to work closely on what that solution will look like. We’re approaching this with a completely open mind.”

Price said that Paperlinx had looked at a number of possible logistics partners and had identified DHL as having the right scale and synergies.

It’s understood that the partnership will not be focussed purely on customer deliveries, and could extend to inbound deliveries to Paperlinx, possibly including deliveries from Asia. Other areas under the microscope will be stock strategy, network integration and procurement.

At this stage the company is yet to reveal if the DHL deal, once it’s finalised will be in the UK only, across Europe or even Global.

However, Price admitted that one outcome of the partnership could be DHL taking over customer deliveries.

“That could be an outcome if it satisfies my criteria of being better, faster cheaper.”

“But the only thing we’re sure of at this stage is that we don’t know what a paper merchant will look like in five years time. All we do know is that the most successful merchants won’t look like they do now,” he said.

“We all have to change; we’ve got changing customer needs and a changing market.”

While the final shape of the deal is still to be decided, Price said that while it was possible, it was unlikely that the DHL partnership would come to nothing as the two companies had already carried out some initial work that indicated there were areas they could “work together”.

Price said he anticipated an outline of the partnership would be finalised by the end of this year, although he said any significant changes to its logistics would be rolled out in stages to ensure service continuity.