Securing the future

tag image: 

An introduction from our Chief Executive, Paula Vennells

"These are exciting times for the Post Office and I'm delighted to be able to set out the strategy which will drive us forward over the remainder of this decade. This marks a key moment in our journey towards a commercially sustainable future. The prize is a thriving business with a strong public purpose focusing more closely on customer need while reducing our reliance on the taxpayer.

These pages describe how we will get there, building on our approach of growth modernisation and customer excellence - putting the customer at the heart of our business and ensuring we are there when they want us, whether in our unrivalled branch network, online or on the phone".


The journey so far...

We are changing, and changing dramatically. We are transforming our business so that we can continue to meet your needs and improve the way we serve you.

Our unique branch network will remain at the heart of what we do, maintained at its current size but benefiting from modernisation and longer opening hours. We are also offering and developing new products – in financial services, mails, telecoms and as a key partner for the delivery of government services. All of this will put the Post Office on the path to securing financial sustainability in the long term.

There is no better indicator that the Post Office is changing than the experiences of customers in cities, towns and villages across the UK. Hundreds of branches have been transformed since 2012 and the evidence is that these changes are meeting with approval: customer satisfaction with the new branch models runs at 95%.We are now able to set out the crucial steps needed to drive forward our transformation, further build our business and ensure we are better placed to meet the demands of your changing lifestyles.

We are certain this can be achieved – certain because this is a unique business, trusted by millions of people, accessible to all and playing a critical role in connecting communities across the UK.


Securing the future

We are transforming so that we can continue to serve your changing needs.

We will complete the modernisation of our branch network. This, coupled with ambitious plans to grow our business and provide new digital platforms, will put us on the path towards commercial sustainability and reduced reliance on taxpayer subsidy.

We will maintain the branch network at around its current size.

With over 11,500 Post Office branches we have a physical and personal presence in the heart of communities across the UK. No one else comes close to having such a genuinely national footprint. Our strategy comes with a clear commitment – we will maintain our branch network at over 11,500 branches.

We will provide support for around 3,400 crucial community and outreach Post Office branches with a new £20 million programme.

Many of these branches will be the only shop left in the community, providing key services and sometimes acting as a crucial lifeline for vulnerable customers. As a commercial business with a public purpose we are absolutely committed to supporting this element of our network and will invest to help subpostmasters build their businesses.

We are developing what we offer our customers so we make the most of our national reach and the trust in which we are held.

We are developing our role as the number one mails retailer. For example, we want to use our national branch network to provide a quick and easy collect service for online packages.We are going to expand our range of financial products into new areas to offer simple, fair, transparent products and a credible value for money alternative to high street banks. We will significantly grow our income from financial services and neighbourhood banking by giving our customers want they want and need.

We want our branches to become a one-stop shop for small businesses. One in three Small to Medium businesses use their local Post Office every week and we want to do more to help them succeed. As thousands of our branches are also small businesses, we are ideally placed to offer this support.

We offer a valued personal touch in an increasingly impersonal digital age. We will remain a key partner for government in the delivery of services. As more government services are accessed online, the Post Office will have a role to play identifying those seeking to make a transaction.

We are also making it easier for our customers, who lead lives that are busier than ever, to use our services.

So we are extending the hours that many Post Office branches are open and modernising their premises so they are easier, more pleasant and faster to use. Over the past 18 months we have made great progress with over 1,400 branches being modernised in the way they look and work. More than nine out of ten of customers tell us they like the improvements so we will look to extend them right across our network. And to ensure our products and services can be accessed around the clock, we are launching a new digital platform. We are going to be wherever our customers are, whether it is close to home, to work or online.

We remain a publicly owned national business. While the Royal Mail has been privatised, we will not. By increasing our revenue through increased sales, we will be better able to sustain our network and meet our customers’ needs while reducing the taxpayers’ subsidy.

We now have a clear and achievable path to a strong, sustainable business. It is a path which, combined with new ways of working which involve more listening and learning from all those involved in the business, could see us eventually become mutually owned.

The Post Office Network

With over 11,500 branches, the Post Office has a physical and personal presence across the UK, and is a vital part of communities across the land.

For subpostmasters, trading conditions remain challenging and customer needs are changing. Our aim is to establish a branch network that meets the needs of customers and enables subpostmasters to prosper. We will provide investment and support for subpostmasters to develop their businesses, injecting new energy into the Post Office network.

With thousands of branches already invested in and operating as new Main and Local models, millions of customers are benefitting from longer opening hours and modern branches. Customer satisfaction is high and waiting times are down.

This shows real progress, but we need to continue at pace as our competitors are moving fast. We are therefore widening this investment to improve the customer experience across the network.

We will be investing in the entrepreneurial spirit and passion of subpostmasters to serve their customers – including through a new £20 million programme for around 3,400 Post Office branches that operate the only retail outlet in a community.

Our plans to transform 292 branches in our Crown Post Office network – the branches directly managed by the Post Office – continues at pace, with 46 branches already modernised. These predominantly high street and city centre branches are increasingly important to our growth agenda. The £70 million investment is bringing substantial benefits including the wider introduction of self-service options and customer consultation areas.

The Post Office is committed to maintaining a network of over 11,500 branches. Subpostmasters leaving the network as part of this programme will receive increased leavers’ payments, provided we are able to relocate the branch to a suitable retailer nearby. Our plans for further investment in the network will ensure the Post Office is convenient, accessible and remains at the heart of communities across the UK.

The Post Office is committed to maintaining the network at over 11,500 branches.

Financial Services

Our financial services offering continues to grow, using our position at the heart of communities to offer products that are simple, fair, transparent and value for money with the widest access.

We are an established financial services product provider, with an extensive range of insurance, savings and lending products while we are the number one supplier of travel money. We are proud of the trust that you place in us and we continue to adapt to meet your demands. This has been exemplified by a number of industry awards we have won, including for our mortgages, savings, credit cards, travel insurance and travel money products.

Our new current account, which we are currently trialling, has also been commended for its transparency, simplicity and value for money. Financial services is a key growth area for Post Office and we will continue to develop and offer new and innovative products to meet your needs across the UK, providing support at every stage of your lives.

We will continue to offer facilities for bill payment and utility and pre-paid top-up cards whilst broadening our Small to Medium offer. The Post Office will become the one-stop-shop for the management of your financial needs.

Finally, we see an opportunity to provide lending facilities and develop our mortgage and credit card business. The Post Office is well placed to satisfy the public demand for fair and transparent lending; to support this we have invested in the rollout of 100 specialist mortgage advisers, placed in selected branches across the UK.

We have almost 3 million financial services customers.


Mails

We use our nationwide network to offer a range of Royal Mail Group products and services that cannot be equalled. We are the number one mails retailer in the country and are among the largest distributors of National Lottery merchandise with 6,000 outlets offering this service.

The market for parcels continues to grow, and it is vital for us in terms of providing footfall into our branches as well as visits to our website. The mails market is also broad and is applicable to all sections of society. As part of our strategy, mails and retail will still be central to what we do. But we need to adapt and change as well. With our partners at Royal Mail, with whom we have a long term commercial agreement, we have already launched Click and Collect to take advantage of the growth in e-commerce. It is important that we seize opportunities here as the UK online market is one of the largest and most developed in the world.

During 2013 we launched our Drop & Go service for small business. This is an example of the type of services that will allow us to learn more about your needs and offer tailored solutions. Customers will continue to be central to everything that we do and we are committed to offering convenience, competitive prices and flexible payment options while embracing online interaction.We will provide bespoke solutions for mails needs.


Government Services

We are proud of our record of offering an essential range of services on behalf of government departments.

We offer a variety of DVLA services including the issuing of tax discs and the capture of digital photographs for the renewal of driving licences. The Post Office card account is an essential resource for many people managing their pension or state benefit payments. We also use our branch network to support the work of the Passport Office, the Home Office and some local authorities. Government services will continue to be important to us in the future.We will continue to provide access to key services for communities. We know that the world has changed. Government is seeking to provide more services online and we believe we have a unique role to play in this.