Post offices face ‘very difficult situation’ over next year, says An Post CEO
Post offices face a “very sticky patch” next year, the CEO of An Post admitted.
David McRedmond says postmasters and women mail workers face several challenges over the next few months.
However, he said he believed the long-term future for post offices was looking much brighter.
It comes as postmasters threaten to vote on a work stoppage next month if the government does not provide financial support.
They warn the network could collapse – including the “ frantic closure ” of post offices – without intervention.
They will hold crisis meetings in June to discuss all options, including a vote on a work stoppage.
Talk on The Pat Kenny ShowMr McRedmond said post office operators had been “hit very hard” by two things since the start of the pandemic.
He explained, “First, the frequency of social assistance payments was reduced as a COVID measure, so fewer people were going to post offices.
“Second, the exchange rate – which is a very important line of business for post offices – has been brought down to almost zero.
“There is a very sticky patch over the next six months or a year. We have proposals with the government… I really hope that they will bring a good resolution for the postmasters and the women.
However, despite the ongoing challenges, he said the longer-term future of the network “looks much brighter than it had long anticipated.”
He pointed out that more post offices are now offering banking services, including for banks such as the Bank of Ireland. which close dedicated branches in many villages and towns.
Meanwhile, An Post also predicts that post offices will become a more important hub for parcel deliveries once lockdowns are completed and people return to offices.
Mr McRedmond said: ‘At the moment it’s very easy to deliver to people because people are at home because of the lockdowns. But people will go back to the office… and home deliveries will become really important.
“In Finland, for example, around 80-90% of e-commerce deliveries are not made to people’s homes, but to local post offices or pick-up points.”
Mr McRedmond also defended the recent increase in the price of stamps from € 1 to € 1.10.
The move was initially predicted last year, but was postponed due to the pandemic – what Mr McRedmond called a “measure of social solidarity”.
He said: “Now that the locks have been lifted, we have reinstated them. I think it is reasonable for us to do so.
“I am very proud of what our front lines delivered during the pandemic.”
He added that people will likely continue to receive additional discounts on multiple Christmas stamp purchases.
The CEO of An Post also said the company did not expect a drastic change package volumes post-COVID, although there are likely “dips and hollows” when people return to brick and mortar stores.
However, he believes the trend is “only going one way” – and that’s a major role for online shopping.