AFD Software. Address, Postcode and Bank solutions.


Happy New Year! This is an exciting, bumper issue of Postcode News!

How do you handle the challenges of developing a truly multi-communication-channel offering, while not letting go of the 'character' of your organisation?

  • Successful Yorkshire-based Mail Order firm Damart - winner of the UK Customer Satisfaction Awards - explain their journey in customer service, channel preferences and overseas growth.

  • Find out how AFD Software's seven year partnership with Hope For Justice is helping to see hundreds released from forced labour and sexual exploitation in the UK.

  • Read how using the free AFD Address Data Healthcheck service is improving data... and customer service.


The Damartex UK HQ sits alongside the Leeds & Liverpool Canal next to the famous Bingley Five Rise Staircase Locks. Damart UK is a major mail-order firm with a £100M+ annual turnover.

Based in Yorkshire, you'd expect down-to-earth plain-speaking – along with a high degree of warmth. That's exactly what we got as we asked Jeanette Askin (Contact Centre Manager) and Ian Auker (Network Communication and Service Delivery Manager) to pass on nuggets about growing a truly multi-channel experience. What could you learn?

Damart began 60 years ago in France where the Despature brothers patented "Thermolactyl", a man-made material from which thermal underwear was manufactured. Famous European climbers like the Italian Reinhold Messner, Austrian Peter Habeler and Britain's Chris Bonnington used and endorsed the clothing as they conquered Everest.

The French-owned business has come a long way since then, with distinct bases in Belgium, UK and France now focussed on thermal clothing and ladies' ready-to-wear. Each territory has its own history and development story. Belgium is retail-based with 56 stores, UK is 100% mail-order based with over 1.8 million active customers, and France is a mixture of stores and mail-order.


"Ten years ago we believed there would be a transition to online retail. The fact is that although we do deliver a multi-channel experience this transition did not happen at the rate we expected. Today the proportion of phone orders has risen to 40%, orders by post 51% and with just 9% of orders placed online or via email!" explains Ian.

Jeanette continues: "What determines the customer channel choice is not easy to prove, but we think the channel choices are driven by factors such as the increased cost of postage and the enjoyment of speaking to a real person. The profile of our traditional customers is senior – and that is another factor in channel choice."

Jeanette thinks that retaining and growing UK contact centre skills has put in place a strong foundation for growth in the USA: "We are leveraging those skills and our US customers love the warm Yorkshire accents of our colleagues. We now run shifts until 4am UK time to serve customers on the cold US East Coast. When 6'4" of snow lands in a single day – you can imagine that the desire for our Thermolactyl products rises!"

"The contact centre receives 10,000 calls per day and 10,000 mail orders per day and during peak periods this doubles. Our colleagues do not have a working knowledge of US addresses and AFD WorldAddress has empowered them to find accurate addresses quickly from a ZipCode and street or property details."

Demand at Damart is driven by a wide variety of marketing activity. Around half of all UK business is placed via mail order and each week 750,000 mail order catalogues are despatched. Together with "off-the-page" advertising in magazines and newspapers this drives orders by mail and phone.

The autumn/winter season 7 week, 18 channel TV advertising campaign drove a measurable increase in unique website hits and a surge in telephone catalogue requests. So how do you prevent the duplication of customer records in a multi-channel environment?

Jeanette says this is an enormous challenge: "Existing customers may well take up an introductory offer actually aimed at new customer acquisition. At the heart of preventing the duplication of customer records is address validation at every point within the business. We have AFD Postcode Plus deployed in every system – Mail Order Data Entry, Contact Centre and Website. By validating addresses at the point of entry we are able to minimise the creation of duplicate addresses."

Back to technology, Ian's concerns are around diverse platforms and safe transition: "We have a UNIX-based version of AFD Postcode Plus for our contact centre and mail order data entry systems, an XML-based web service version of AFD Postcode Plus and WorldAddress for our USA and website systems. AFD Software is on this journey with us, making technical transitions happen reliably."

Damart recently won the UK Customer Satisfaction Award from the Institute of Customer Service. Jeanette explains why: "Our business and culture is orientated toward making the customer experience excellent at every point. AFD Software plays a vital part in making this possible. Part of what makes our customers feel good is about answering calls quickly, minimising data entry time, minimising duplicate records and ensuring the data accuracy that is the foundation for on-time delivery. With AFD Postcode Plus and AFD WorldAddress our colleagues don't have to be experts in UK and US addresses."

Please call 01624 811711 to speak to one of our
Data Quality Consultants.

We love to learn from our customers and here are a few of the highlights from Jeanette and Ian at Damart.

  • Respect and value the unique heritage of your organisation. Tell the story in a way that connects customers and colleagues with the active core values that underpin your business.
  • Different territories have different cultures, preferences and development paths – one size does not necessarily fit all. Understand and roll with the channel preferences of your customers.
  • The channel might cost more, but if that's what the customers want – deliver it with passion. Work hard to hear, understand and respond to the outside influences that shape and change customer behaviour and preferences.
  • Involve all colleagues in answering the question "What frustrates or annoys our customers?" then do something about it!
  • Understand how what you do well can be leveraged to better exploit growth markets.
  • Take profiling beyond traditional measures of recency, frequency and value…. add to the mix the cost of servicing customers.

Do you have a story to tell? Please contact






























































How to make your business more exciting... and save more and make more

If one of your data quality goals is accurate addresses we can help you get started - free. The AFD Software Healthcheck Service is a secure platform through which you can test the quality of your address data and receive a comprehensive and informative report – which puts you in the driving seat.


If you don't measure it, you can't manage it!

Proven by hundreds of organisations, millions of records have now passed through the service and where action is needed we help find the most appropriate solution*. For example Cheryl Carroll, Database Coordinator at the Society of Operations Engineers, read about the Healthcheck Service in the spring edition of Postcode News.

Cheryl told us: "We do get mail returns so I thought we had some problems with our address data and I wanted to get an independent view of the quality. I was mildly surprised when the data turned out to be better than I thought - around 60% was fine. I thought we could improve the rest dramatically. The health check was free, easy to use and we have purchased a Refiner license to put things right."

Why not measure the quality of your address data with the free, secure, AFD Healthcheck service?

* Users of the free service are under no obligation to purchase an AFD Software solution.


How to get started

1. Register and Upload a CSV file to our secure site
2. Wait 3 working days whilst AFD Software's data specialists analyse the data
3. Receive a report detailing the data accuracy and understand how AFD can help















Zoe was trafficked across Europe and forced into prostitution. Responding to intelligence, a team of Hope for Justice Investigators identified Zoe's location and covertly arranged to recover her - but working with traumatised people is complex.

Despite the horrors she faced, Zoe could not understand why anyone, especially strangers, would want to help her escape. She'd been tricked into being trafficked by a friend and that terrible betrayal had devastated any faith she had in humanity. The Hope for Justice Investigators were eventually able to encourage her to leave with them. Zoe was placed into aftercare at a safe-house and started down the road to restoration.

This kind of story is too common. The UK Human Trafficking Centre identified 2,744 cases in 2013 and the Home Office estimate a further 10,000 potential victims, not yet identified.

When Hope for Justice was formed in 2008 there was little recognition of the issue and little action being taken. The AFD Group have financially supported Hope for Justice from its inception. Hope for Justice has pioneered what is now a proven multi-disciplinary model which brings freedom from the slavery of forced labour and sexual exploitation on three continents. You can imagine how delighted we are with what is being achieved.


How could you help?

Do you see people picked up for work early and dropped off late in a van – perhaps without seats? Do they live in a multi-occupancy house? Do you rarely see them or interact with them? This could be a sign they are in forced labour. Simply report this to or call 0845 519 7402. In the event of immediate danger to life, dial 999.











Colin's hill-walking hobby has transformed him into a landscape photographer, featured in BBC Wildlife magazine!

When his son arrived on the scene 11 years ago, Colin found himself taking walks when no one else was awake, and he was able to take in stunning sunrises and surreal sunsets around the Isle of Man. Naturally he wanted to capture seeing things that most people don't see - so began to take his camera.

Fast forward 11 years and Colin now has his own website: His images have been published in BBC Wildlife magazine, Outdoor Photography, Digital Camera Magazine, Digital SLR User, local Island publications, and used by many local businesses.
If you travel to the Isle of Man on the 'Ben My Chree' ferry, you will see Colin's images on board – which were purchased as part of a recent refit – his own floating gallery!

A once keen golfer, Colin used to play in the Isle of Man Scratch league, nowadays he is just about holding on to a single figure handicap and mainly playing for the social element.

Colin and his wife Jackie needn't worry about home security - their son, Robert, aged 11 has a black belt in Karate!

As a Liverpool FC supporter Colin tries to get to a couple of games every season. Colin's predicted league finish? "7th – and that's being optimistic!"

Colin recently joined the Research & Development team at AFD. To say he has a computing background would be an understatement! Having written Windows applications for the last 28 years he is now enjoying the new challenge at AFD.






British addresses – we love 'em. At Christmas Close in Wareham the festive season is over and the celebrations on New Year's Lane in Sevenoaks have finished. So what about setting new goals and good habits at Resolution Road in Exeter?



Over the past three months there have been significant updates to data on the Royal Mail Postcode Address File (PAF). These include 22 new localities; 5,764 new postcodes; 82,977 new delivery points and 21,030 delivery point changes. Please note that these figures are approximate as Royal Mail were unable to release statistics in November. This does not affect the quality of the data update.

All changes, deletions and additions are included in our latest Q.1/15 update which is now available. The Q.1/15 Names & Numbers is due for release in February. To order updates for any AFD solution, call 01624 811711 or email



Any Questions? Call now on 01624 811711

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