Royal Mail Out of the Red; Flunks 100% of Service Targets

01 June 2004

After several years of wallowing in the red, Britain's quasi-monopolistic Royal Mail has finally made it out of the wood, albeit at the expense of its quality of service targets.

In the financial year to December 31, net earnings reached £200 million ($366.60m; €300.07m) -- reversing the previous year's loss of almost £200m.

The turnround reflects stringent cost-cutting, largely at the expense of middle management, plus a programme of local post office closures.

But of the fifteen delivery performance targets imposed on the postal operator by industry regulator Postcom, the Royal Mail flunked all fifteen -- an achievement that will attract intense scrutiny by the watchdog.

Says red-faced RM chairman Allan Leighton: "That is not good enough. We will ensure the problems are fixed as quickly as possible."

His embarrassment is not simply cosmetic: Royal Mail is obliged to make compensation payments of about £80m to disgruntled customers -- plus any financial penalties that Postcom may impose.

In a flurry of sacrificial gesticulation, Leighton and other RM key executives have deferred part or all of their annual QOS performance bonuses -- in every case a relatively minimal element in their overall remuneration packages.

"In deferring our bonuses," Leighton proclaims, "we are saying we have confidence in everyone in Royal Mail achieving our key targets by the end of this current year."

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff