German postal giant Deutsche Post is set to lose its former stranglehold on the delivery of mail inside the nation’s borders, with the announcement last week that two major newspaper groups plan separate incursions into the sector.

Both groups, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, say they will start delivering letters along with their papers within the next few months.

WAZ, based in Essen, will launch as yet unnamed regional mail-delivery subsidiary to begin services in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia by March. Rival FAZ also aims to start mail deliveries by Q2 2001, initially in Frankfurt then rolling-out across the entire Rhine-Main region.

Although smaller newspapers have already made similar moves, this is the first heavyweight competition for the former state postal monopoly. Deutsche Post professes itself unworried by the new competition, although it admits it is taking it seriously.

As it should - according to Hans-Joachim Eberlein at Mainpost-Logistik in Wuerzburg. "If the publishers can join forces and agree,” he said, “Deutsche Post will have something to worry about.”

German regional dailies generally have highly optimized distribution networks, making mail delivery a logical value-added step, although "it is absolutely essential to serve a large area," according to Lars Tisken, chief executive of Medienservice.

Industry observers believe the newcomers are likely to significantly undercut Deutsche Post.

News source: Handelsblatt (Germany) [19-Jan-01]