June 19, 2014 5:04 am JST

Sagawa Express to hire 10,000 homemakers to make the rounds

TOKYO -- Sagawa Express will take in 10,000 stay-at-home moms as part-time couriers, creating an auxiliary force to help cope with rising parcel volumes.

     That equals more than a fifth of the Kyoto company's current delivery staff of around 38,000, which consists mostly of full-time drivers.

     Sagawa Express hopes the new recruits, starting with 5,000 this fiscal year, will provide backup during Japan's traditional midyear and year-end gift-giving seasons.

     The women will be expected to deliver 30-odd packages a day within a 1-3km radius of their homes after getting the parcels from company drivers. They could earn 50,000 yen to 80,000 yen ($484-$775) a month working Monday to Friday, depending on how many packages they handle, the company says.

     Sagawa Express will train them and provide work supplies, including its distinctive striped uniform. Their loads will be small enough to deliver on foot using a company-supplied pushcart or by bicycle. The women will be able to choose the days they want to work. The company will even adjust their routes so they do not have to deliver to their next-door neighbors.

     Sagawa Express has seen its home delivery volumes grow by a third in the past decade and expects to handle 1.23 billion packages in fiscal 2014. With consumers buying more of everything online, the trend is likely to continue. The industry is facing a serious shortage of drivers, sending delivery companies scrambling to find help.