By Daniel Hunter
Post Office Ltd today (Friday) announced plans to transform about half of its network of 11,800 branches across the UK over the next three years as part of an overall £1.34 billion investment and support programme, subject to EU State Aid clearance.
The Post Office is a core part of the UK’s economic and social infrastructure — 99 per cent of the UK population lives within three miles of a Post Office branch. The investment will provide a more modern and convenient retail experience for customers, whilst maintaining the UK Post Office network at its current size.
All branches across the network will benefit either directly or indirectly from the investment as Post Office Ltd continues to find new business and grow its income. The 5,500 branches, which will not become local or main branches, will retain their current operating model and will be supported by subsidy payments reflecting their key role in UK life.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Post Office — a chance to revitalise the network and allow it to meet the needs of twenty-first century customers and communities," Paula Vennells, Chief Executive Officer, Post Office Ltd, said.
"This major investment will help Post Office Ltd address changing customer needs by revitalising the network, with extended opening hours and a better experience for our customers.”
The transformation of the network is part of a wider strategy to win new customers and revenue streams for the business to ensure its long-term sustainability. In 2000, Post Office Ltd had around 28 million customer visits each week. This now stands at around 20 million.
As a result, at present, a significant part of the UK branch network benefits from a subsidy payment to sustain services to communities. This investment programme will make the branch network more attractive to customers, subpostmasters and prospective clients. The combination of extended opening hours and new business income will help sustain the network and over time make it less reliant on a subsidy from Government.
Winning more Government business is a key part of the Post Office strategy, for example, the roll-out of biometric data capture equipment to nearly 800 branches nationwide. This allows Post Office Ltd to compete for tenders to deliver assisted application and identity verification services. Growing the Post Office’s existing financial services business is another key strategic priority. The Post Office is expanding its range of value for money financial services products.
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