On the 1st of April 2012 the Post Office became independent of Royal Mail and the two companies inked a business agreement to allow the Post Offices to continue issuing stamps and accept letters and parcels for Royal Mail. This contract was for a decade and needs to be renewed but there’s a problem. The Post Office wants to spread it’s wings and handle parcels for other carriers breaking the 10 year Post Office exclusivity agreement they’ve had to work under since they became ‘independent’.
The Times has reported negotiations are under way with Royal Mail and the Post Office exclusivity is top of the agenda to open the door and allow couriers and potentially even Amazon to have packages handled by the Post Office. This is eminently sensible but the end of the Post Office exclusivity deal with Royal Mail is going to cause ructions for both companies.
Currently, the Post Office can’t even handle all Royal Mail services – Tracked 24 and 48 can be purchased online at Royal Mail Click and Drop but unlike most other Royal Mail services you can’t even drop Tracked 24 and 48 parcels at the Post Office – their Horizon system can’t even scan them and if you try to dump them at the Post Office you’ll be told to drop them at your local Royal Mail delivery office. Cross fingers a new deal with Royal Mail would sort out anomalies like this.
The Post Office board is interesting as there are some time served members who have been around forever and are ideologically attached to the Royal Mail. There are also newer board members that don’t see the centuries old partnership with Royal Mail as something that should determine the future and would happily see the Post Office become a mega parcel shop hub selling services and accepting parcels for multiple couriers.
Royal Mail need the Post Office and it’s inconceivable that they wouldn’t want them still selling stamps, but they’re unlikely to welcome your local Post Master saying “Yes, you can send your parcel via Royal Mail or Parcelforce, but you could save money by sending via [insert names of various courier companies here]”.
Royal Mail would still pick up the less profitable letter type post, but if the Post Office could sell services with a range of couriers and, dare I say, alternative postal carriers using Royal Mail downstream services for final mile delivery, the national postal service could see their business ebbing away in communities across the country.
**** Corrected to remove reference to Post Office branches using PayPoint as this was incorrect, they use ‘Paystation’ terminals and/or are Payzone outlets.