Up to 61 Post Office branches will relocate to WHSmith stores
The Post Office today announced a new 10-year agreement with WHSmith to relocate more Post Office branches into the UK retailer’s modernised stores, keeping services on high streets throughout the country and bringing further investment for customers.
WHSmith currently operates 107 Post Office branches from their stores. Under the new agreement, subject to local consultations, up to another 61 Post Office branches will move into WHSmith stores over the next 12 months, with just over half expected to be concession agreements run directly by the Post Office.The plans will include some of the 39 directly-run Crown Post Office branches that the Post Office announced proposals to franchise in January this year, but exact locations are yet to be confirmed.
Post Office Chief Executive Paula Vennells said: “We know that people place huge importance on the presence of a Post Office branch on their high street.Our collaboration with WHSmith will help to secure this, as well as bring new investment into the network."
Roger Gale, General Manager of the Post Office’s Crown branch network said that WHSmith franchises had improved customer service and brought benefits, with the majority open Saturday afternoons and on Sundays.
“The vast majority of the Post Office’s network of 11,500 Post Office branches is already run on a franchise or agency basis” he said.
“Crown branches are still run by directly by the Post Office but factors such as high property costs and changing customer habits mean we have to consider new ways to provide our services in some locations.Today’s agreement means we can maintain and improve services from convenient high street locations in a commercially sustainable way. It’s great to be working with a partner that we know shares our values and is as committed to thriving Post Office branches.”
Mr Gale added that staff affected by the new agreement will be informed first about plans for their own branches when these are finalised.Under concession agreements staff remain employed by the Post Office whilst under a franchise agreement they have the right to transfer to WHSmith.
Local communities will also be kept well informed and consulted on next steps before changes take place.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- When detailed plans are drawn up for the relocation of Crown Post Office branches into WHSmith stores these will be subject to a six-week public consultation period, announced in the relevant location, before a final decision is taken.There are no locations currently finalised for new Post Office branches into WHSmith stores.
- In January the Post Office announced proposals to franchise 39 Crown Post Office branches and advertised for potential franchise partners for those locations.There has been registered interest from a number of potential partners in each location including in some cases by WHSmith but detailed plans are not yet finalised.
- Under concession agreements Post Office branches will relocate to a WHSmith store but continue to be directly managed and run by the Post Office which also continues to be the employer of the Post Office staff.
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The Post Office (Post Office Limited) has an unrivalled national network of over 11,500 branches across the UK, more than all the high street banks combined, and sits at the heart of communities in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. The Post Office has made a commitment to maintaining its network of branches at its current size and reach. It provides around 170 different products and services spanning financial services including savings, insurance, loans, mortgages and credit cards; Government services; telephony; foreign currency; travel insurance and mail services.
The Post Office serves over 17 million customers a week and a third of small businesses. Some 99.7% of the total population live within three miles of a post office and over 97% live with one mile of a post office. For many rural communities, the post office is the only retail outlet. Post Offices branches remain highly valued and trusted, and are the focal point of many communities. For more information, visit http://www.postoffice.co.uk/.
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