Paula Vennells, chief executive of The Post Office, has said in an interview with the Financial Times that the company is on the verge of breaking even for the first time in 15 years. The Post Office has remained in public ownership after the privatisation of Royal Mail in 2013, and constitutes the UK’s largest retail network. The government has pumped close to £2 billion into branch renovations in order for them to remain open, but about 70 of the Post Office’s Crown branches have been earmarked to be turned into franchises inside other shops.
More significantly, its workforce has responded to large numbers of redundancies with a series of strikes that have caused trade unions to describe the service as at “crisis point“. Ms Vennells said that the strikes did not have a “huge effect” on trading. She aims to generate profits of £100 million in the next three to four years, which would allow The Post Office to subsidise branches in remote rural and deprived urban areas. Ms Vennells calls this the “social purpose that actually sets The Post Office apart“.
As paperless and online alternatives have replaced its main areas of service over the years, The Post Office has sought to diversify its business by moving into broadband and financial services. Its revenue increased to £981 million in the last financial year, but its success in these competitive markets remains to be seen.