An Post returned to profit last year, earning €8.4m compared to a €12.4m loss in 2016. Revenues for 2017 rose by 1.2%, helped by the 28 cent rise in the price of a standard stamp and an increase in parcel volumes. Costs also fell, as the company reduced its headcount by more than 330.
David McRedmond, chief executive of An Post, said a large part of the increased revenues can be attributed to the increase in the cost of a postage stamp to €1 last year. He said the price increase yielded €60m but added that it was an "exceptional price" increase and the company had to implement it as the finances of the company needed it. The stamp increase only took An Post to the European average price level and according to Mr McRedmond, consumers continue to use An Post's "first class services" despite the price hike. He said the falloff from the price increase was a lot less than some people had indicated.
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2017 also saw the relaunch of An Post's parcel business, which followed a major agreement with the Communications Workers Union to deliver on Saturdays and to have later deliveries at night time, which Mr McRedmond also contributed to the turnaround at the company as the parcels business was transformed. He noted that volumes in the parcels area are up 30%. The company also reduced its headcount last year by 333 people, which also helped its bottom line.
The An Post boss said the company's focus is all about repositioning the business for the long term and to capture the burgeoning e-commerce market. Mr McRedmond said that European postal companies are becoming very valuable and interesting businesses and really central to the general economy. An Post is continuing to increase its market share of the e-commerce market and Mr McRedmond said he sees no reason why it will not continue to increase.
He said that customers like Amazon.com and Boohoo.com are dealing with An Post and the company is seeing more and more business from the likes of these online traders every day as they realise that An Post are the people who deliver everywhere in Ireland with the highest quality of service. He said that now the parcels business has been relaunched, An Post can do more to automate it and he remains very positive about where the business is going.
An Post launched a current account product in June of last year and Mr McRedmond said that about 30,000 accounts have since been opened. He said An Post is getting further into the financial services area and said the post office will start to offer loans to individuals and SMEs in the near future as it delves further into local or community banking. He said the network has by far the largest reach of anyone in the country as well as a brand that people trust. But he added that An Post will stay away from mortgages for the time being.
Mr McRedmond said that An Post is about to announce very shortly a "breakthrough agreement" with the Post Masters Union which will see a "new vision" for the post office network and will see an investment of €50m in the future of that network. He said he does not see any compulsory closure of offices, but added there will be come "consolidation". An Post said it will come with a guarantee of everyone being within 15km of a post office, while communities of over 500 people will have post offices. The network will also be refurbished and a "very wide" range of new services will also be introduced, the An Post boss added.
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