Royal Mail owner IDS appoints new CEO Martin Seidenberg

Category: Operations
Royal Mail owner IDS appoints new CEO Martin Seidenberg

International Distributions Services, the holding company for both Royal Mail and GLS have appointed Martin Seidenberg as Group Chief Executive Officer. They say that under the revised structure, Martin will lead the IDS Group and set its strategic direction. He will be appointing CEOs for Royal Mail and GLS responsible for operational management of the two subsidiaries in due course.

Most recently CEO of GLS, the profit making part of the group, Martin spent 15 years at Deutsche Post DHL where he held a variety of logistics, strategy and CEO roles internationally.

Most recently the Royal Mail and GLS CEOs reported directly to the board, not to a Group CEO, so this leads to some interesting questions, not least of which is who will be Royal Mail CEO (oh and who will be appointed GLS CEO), and what exactly will their roles be?

But first, have you heard of Sue Whalley? If you’re from outside the logistics industry then your answer is probably who? So let’s try a different question – Do you remember Rico Back who was appointed Group CEO when Moya Greene retired as Royal Mail CEO? You probably remember Rico leaving, having perhaps not kept Royal Mail’s reputation intact, and him mainly living overseas while in office? Well Sue was appointed as CEO, Post and Parcels, Royal Mail UK at the time but Rico got all the bad press. That’s the situation Martin Seidenberg now finds himself in.

Like Rico, Martin becomes Group CEO as an immediate promotion from GLS CEO, and he’s probably hoping that unlike Rico he gets all the praise for anything good that happens at Royal Mail and whoever he appoints as Royal Mail CEO will get any flak directed at the company. That makes it an unenviable job, unlike whoever becomes GLS CEO who at least will start with a profit making company to lead.

But will they lead, with a Group CEO one has to question how much autonomy a Royal Mail CEO serving under Martin will get. And that’s what’s going to make recruitment difficult.

Certainly, the CWU may look at the appointments with interest, having cautiously welcomed the appointment of Martin Seidenberg. Saying “We also await with interest, the forthcoming appointment of the Royal Mail CEO“, immediately followed with “The truth is though, this is not a time for words. It is a moment for actions. If we do not see a complete shift from the attitudes and approach of the current senior management team then this company has no future“. The CWU say they’ve not seen Royal Mail management partnering with workers thus far, and that’s got to be something addressed by the new Group CEO and future Royal Mail CEO.

CWU members overwhelmingly endorsed the Business Recovery, Transformation and Growth agreement little over a week ago. They are seeing and feeling no change at local level. We have seen breaches of the agreement both material and in spirit. This is unprecedented so early into an agreement. Whilst our members want to move on from the dispute, senior management cannot shake off their union busting mentality. The new CEO has to oversee a significant change in both personnel and approach. 

– Dave Ward, General Secretary, and Andy Furey, Acting Deputy General Secretary (Postal), CWU

It’s not so much what the CEOs do and say that will matter, it’s whether they can win back the hearts and support of their employees and the Union. This makes whoever Martin appoints to lead Royal Mail crucial for the future of the business… and they’ll have to convince the union that having two CEOs isn’t a precursor to splitting the group up and selling off part of the business.

But today Royal Mail must be breathing a sigh of relief that they’ve moved on from Simon Thompson who the union and even MPs were unable to successfully work with, and got a new name at the top table:

The Board is delighted to appoint Martin as Group CEO of IDS. His extensive international logistics experience and proven track record makes him the right person to lead the Group at this critical juncture.

Under Martin’s leadership GLS has grown to nearly 40% of Group revenue and it continuously delivered significant profit to the Group. He has transformed GLS into a state-of-the-art international parcel logistics network serving consumers and businesses across Europe and North America. With Royal Mail entering a new phase of its transformation after the ballot on the agreement with the CWU, and GLS on a positive trajectory, we can move both companies forward under Martin’s leadership to deliver change, growth and value across the Group.

– Keith Williams, Chairman of IDS

It is a privilege to be appointed to lead IDS and ensure that both Royal Mail and GLS reach their full potential. We may have challenges ahead, but through transformation and working together with our people, we can undoubtedly have a bright future.” 

GLS is an exceptional business with great potential and a strong brand in its own right. We will remain focused on quality, profitable growth and margin development to thrive in the current challenging macro-economic environment. We will continue to invest so that the business continues to deliver high quality and becomes even more global and digital over time.” 

With Royal Mail’s brand, unrivalled scale and postmen and women connecting every household and business in the country, we have plenty of opportunity ahead of us. But we must seize it. By enabling Royal Mail to best serve our customers’ evolving demands, we can deliver benefits for customers, employees and shareholders alike.

– Martin Seidenberg, CEO, International Distributions Services

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